On Oct. 18, Orlando Ballet held its groundbreaking ceremony for the new Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre. The construction for the new dance facility was re-launched when Harriet Lake, a philanthropist, made an additional donation of $5 million toward the project that costs $12 million total. Including her prior donations, Lake has given a total of $7.5 million toward the construction costs of the building.
In attendance at the groundbreaking was Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Sibille Pritchard, chairman of both the Orlando Ballet building committee and board of directors, Robert Hill, Orlando Ballet artistic director, and Shane Jewell, executive director.
In a press release sent out earlier this year in June by Orlando Ballet, Mayor Dyer stated, “As a city, ensuring the arts and culture thrive and grow in our community is a top priority, and for nearly 50 years, Orlando Ballet has served as an anchor institution in this effort. I am proud and so thankful this gift will help ensure that legacy continues to flourish.”
To help fill in the gap of the remaining costs, the company was granted an additional $4 million from Orange County’s tourist development tax (TDT) dollars. The grant was initiated by the Board of County Commissioners by unanimous vote and was based on recommendations from the Application Review Committee and the Tourist Development Council. The county also used their cultural facilities grants program to donate $500,000 toward the facility’s auditorium.
The Orlando Ballet press release stated, “The building will reunite the company, school and offices in one built-for-purpose facility. Larger studios will allow Orlando Ballet to better prepare high-quality performances for the Dr. Phillips Center stage, expand class offerings, community outreach, and operate more cost-efficiently.”
The architect for the Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre, Rob Scheffer, said they wanted the 38,000-square-foot building to look clean and contemporary in the design. He wanted something that looked fresh, new and light. Since it is built in front of a lake, Lake Formosa, he says every studio in the building is given a view of it. Each studio will also have 20-foot-high ceilings. “We started the planning in March 2018. To go from cocktail napkin sketch to official construction documents in six, seven months is phenomenal,” says Scheffer.
Not only will the new amenity be for the ballet, but it will also serve as an event space for the community to hold functions such as banquets and weddings. The Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre is located in Loch Haven Cultural Park and is expected to open in fall 2019.