EXCLUSIVE! Miami City Ballet Donors to Withhold $125,000 Donation



In an exclusive interview, Henry and Harriet Pownall announced that they intend to withhold a $125,000 donation to the Miami City Ballet that is due tomorrow. The Pownalls feel that Artistic Director Edward Villella’s retirement, is a dismissal by the MCB board and not a voluntary departure. In light of this, they decided to withhold half of the $250,000 balance due to make clear how disgusted they are with the MCB board’s alleged actions. “We were going to withhold all of it but didn’t want to harm the dancers,” says Harriett Pownall.

The funds are part of $500,000 pledged by the couple last year, when they happily agreed to become lead underwriters for an Alexei Ratmansky ballet to be performed by Miami City Ballet on March 1. The Pownalls paid the first installment of $250,000 to the ballet last spring and donated another $500,000 to underwrite two more MCB performances last year.

Henry Pownall says he feels betrayed, “you don’t do this after a good handshake. This was a bait and switch. We got involved because of Edward and what he’s created. We want to send a message to other donors to put pressure on the board of trustees by withholding their donations – maybe now they’ll reinstate Edward’s five-year contract.”

“I feel this is Edward’s ballet just like at the Joffrey Ballet was Robert Joffrey’s, whom everyone looked up to,” adds Harriet Pownall, “I feel so devoted because he’s brought the company all the way up to the acclaim they have now. You don’t do that to someone who is a terrific teacher and does all that work. The board doesn’t appreciate what he’s done and it’s not right to kill that.” Adds Henry Pownall, “I think the board is nuts.”



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