'1306' plus 10 equals 13 hours of celebration

September 24, 2010
Chicago Tribune
Sid Smith

Content

Putting money where its art is

Wanna buy a ballet ticket?

That riff on the long-running TV jewelry pitch line came to mind a few weeks back when the Joffrey Ballet announced it was offering subscribers an unusual money-back guarantee.

Those who sign up for the three-part 2010-11 season package ("The Nutcracker" isn't included) have the option, once they've attended the fall engagement Oct. 13-24 at the Auditorium Theatre, of obtaining a refund for the rest of the year, if they're disappointed.

Desperation?

"Not at all," Christopher Clinton Conway, the troupe's executive director, says. "We're very confident of our product and confident people will want more, once they've taken the leap to sample.

"This isn't about veteran subscribers. This is about reaching those people who say they're not sure they would like us and don't know if it's worth signing up for a whole season to find out."

There's no easy way to tell how many are taking up the offer, but Conway says it's mentioned in the script telemarketers use in selling subscriptions, and they report it's helping sales.

When asked if it recasts the Joffrey in the trappings of a used-car salesman, Conway laughed and replied, "I don't think so, but it wouldn't particularly upset me. We're proud that we started out in the '50s touring in a station wagon, that we have a grass-roots past. We're the people's ballet."