Carmel Ballet Academy and others say they can’t afford the Sunset Center’s new rental rates.

Tutu Pricey: Missing the Pointe: Carol Benton Richmond, director of the Carmel Ballet Academy, says that the Sunset Center’s new rates bring in more money for the city but hurt the traditional users of the facility. Jane Morba

Tickets to the Carmel Ballet Academy’s golden anniversary performance in June will be a little harder to come by compared to previous recitals.

The young dancers have performed at Carmel’s Sunset Center for the past 50 years. But this year, because of increased rental rates imposed by the Sunset Center’s new management, the Carmel Ballet Academy must move its three-day production to the much smaller World Theater at CSU Monterey Bay.

Last year, says Director Carol Benton Richmond, the studio paid just under $8,000 for the three-day recital and one day of set up at the Sunset Center. This year’s would have cost about $12,500.

“We are a small town dance studio and we can’t afford that,” Richmond says. “We were all afraid of this. I knew the price was going up, but not that much.”

The Sunset Center’s new executive director say the price he’s charging the dance company is fair.

Executive Director Jack Globenfelt, who was appointed by the Sunset Center of Carmel’s Board of Trustees in December 2004, says nonprofit groups pay lower rental prices—about 10 percent less than their for-profit counterparts.

The Carmel Ballet Academy, he says, “clearly [is] a for-profit organization.”

“We came up with a reasonable rate,” Globenfelt says. “We would love to have their performance here. But I made a substantial offer, and I can’t do any more.”

Globenfelt explains that the rate hike is a result of an overall increase in the cost of facility maintenance.

“With heating and air-conditioning and equipment maintenance, it costs more to run,” he says, adding that he can’t make any exceptions, even for a group that’s been performing at the Sunset Center for half a century.

“I have to be consistent, and I made big concessions,” Globenfelt says. “I feel sad that this is how it went.”

The Carmel Ballet Academy isn’t the only organization affected by the Center’s new rental rates.

Tenants like the Yoga Center of Carmel, whose businesses lie on the property of the Sunset Center, have seen a rate hike, too.

“They have leases with us, and they had to pay more money, but they’re still far below market value rent,” Globenfelt says.

Additionally, the Mozart Society is about to have its last performance at the Sunset Center. A spokesman says next season the Mozart Society will move to the All Saints Episcopal Church in Carmel because the Sunset Center is too expensive.

Globenfelt’s answer to groups like the dance studio and the Mozart Society: raise ticket prices, charge participants more money or seek out sponsors.

But Richmond says Carmel Ballet Academy can’t afford the new rates and can’t be expected to make up the difference.

“Parents are already paying too much,” she says, “and we can’t charge a recital fee.”

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Richmond says she understands Sunset Center’s need to bring money into city coffers. But by pricing the Ballet Academy out of Carmel, the city is missing out on history. Former dance students from the Academy are invited to attend the special June performance, including a 70-year-old student who wrote a ballet about Carmel.

“It’s damn disappointing,” Richmond says.

With nearly 370 students and 14 teachers, the issue is one of space.

“It’s so small,” says Matthew King, parent of an 11-year-old ballet student, bemoaning the recital’s new digs. “The World Theater is not adequate.”

It’s not close, either, he adds. The majority of kids come from Carmel. Now they must make the trek to Seaside.

When it comes to groups like the Ballet Academy, says King, the Sunset Center’s bottom line shouldn’t be maximum dollars.

“Local community performers, like our kids, won’t bring in money,” he says, pointing to the Center’s recent influx of big-name performers and touring acts. “It doesn’t seem like they’re interested in the community groups anymore. They are saying ‘We don’t want kids.’”

THEWEEKLYTALLY $28 Billion
The projected cost of physically inactive, obese and overweight adults to the California economy in 2005, a 32 percent increase since 2000. Source: California Department of Health Services

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