Ohio Dance Theatre has been dealt a big funding blow and will close its doors June 30 after a quarter-century in Oberlin.
Dance classes will continue through the end of the current semester, then the nonprofit will vacate its space at the New Union Center for the Arts on South Main Street.
The ballet company’s board of directors announced this weekend that it lost “foundation support representing a significant portion of the organization’s annual budget” and voted to shut down.
Ohio Dance Theatre was founded in 1992 by longtime director Denise Gula. She led one last performance of “The Nutcracker” in December ahead of plans to retire this May and work on a documentary film.
Gula directed more than 50 performances during her ODT career, including “Cinderella,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Swan Lake.”
Under her leadership, the company grew into a school bringing the arts to more than 14,000 local residents each year.
“During its quarter century of service to the community, ODT has touched many lives by inspiring hope and joy through the art of dance,” the organization said in a statement. “People of all ages, particularly young people, many from diverse backgrounds and with limited economic means, called the Dancers’ Studio their second home. They were given affordable access to state-of-the-art dance training while improving their life skills and developing an appreciation for the arts.”
Amid rising costs and the unexpected loss of foundation support, the board explored ways to keep the doors open. “However, it soon became apparent that no option was reasonable or responsible,” according to the statement.
Staff and board members hope dance instruction will continue under a new initiative called the Oberlin Center for the Arts, headquartered at the New Union Center for the Arts.