It's time for ABT to trip over itself once again right before the 4th quarter fundraising push. For whatever reason, publication of its latest IRS Form 990 has been delayed, but it isn't likely to include much good news. So people may have to make their giving decisions based on the information already available.
ABT cries out on its website that it needs donations to its Pointe Shoe Fund because "the Company spends over five hundred thousand dollars on pointe shoes each year." That's $500,000+. The problem is that it's a bald-faced lie and ABT has knowingly misrepresented its expenses in its appeal to potential donors. The company doesn't spend anywhere near a half-million dollars on pointe shoes each year. In fact, it only spends $385,466 on ALL shoes for both men and women (pointe, slippers, jazz, character) and tights for both men and women, and the combined expenses have actually decreased over the past three years from $395k.
From the website (click on image to enlarge and clarify):
ABT's actual expenses from the last three IRS Form 990s – 2011, 2010, 2009 (click on each image to enlarge and clarify):
If the company misrepresents expenses by more than 30% in its appeal to donors, why should anyone believe anything that it says?
It's truly wonderful that a generous person recently gave a $2 million gift to the company's JKO School, but the school is not a separate entity from ABT the way SAB is separated from NYCB. That $2 million just goes into the big pot. Will some of it be used for student scholarships? Let's hope and assume so. But the vague wording of ABT's press release that describes how the money will be used suggests general company use of the funds, e.g., "Funds received will also assist in infrastructure improvements needed to maintain the JKO School's day-to-day operations, including technology enhancements, rehearsal equipment and costuming, additional personnel and physical maintenance of the JKO School facility." The JKO school does not have separate facilities, technology, and equipment. The school doesn't even have its own website which could be run practically for free.
In addition, the company says that "funds will provide financial assistance for the continued operation of the JKO School's annual exchange program with The Royal Ballet School." That annual excursion is an expensive one for which students are ushered over to London for a ballet field trip. Has anyone at ABT ascertained that the expense produces any kind of results that wouldn't be gained without the field trip? These types of international field trips are common to expensive private schools where the richest board their kids. ABT is spending donors' hard earned bucks on rich kid-like field trips overseas like it's Miss Porter's School for Girls and Boys Studying Ballet.
Maybe ABT would actually be better off if it acted more like Miss Porter's School. It's doubtful that Miss Porter's School has anyone who can't restrain himself from publishing pornish photos and videos of himself on the internet. This brings us to a topic for another time – unless, of course, the pornish photos and videos are voluntarily removed from the internet, which will make for a very dull post but will grant great relief to ABT's longtime supporters.