Sculpture theft, water damage cost Nevada Ballet Theatre

Thieves came under cover of darkness May 6 and stole two metal sculptures from the entry to Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Summerlin headquarters at 1651 Inner Circle Drive.

It’s the latest setback the NBT has experienced.

Tire tracks show where a vehicle drove up onto the pavement, presumably to bash the sculptures free of their anchors. All that’s left are their feet. Another statue was damaged and now tilts at an awkward angle.

“The police came out … and took a report but didn’t have much to say except that they thought someone wanted them for the metal,” said Jenn Kratochwill, director of public relations for NBT.

The sculptures were life-size renditions of children at play. They had been a staple of NBT since 1999.

“I, personally, was heartbroken,” said Beth Barbre, the theater’s executive director and CEO. “Seeing the kids come in, they would touch the statues, hug the statues. They were really a symbol for us, of what we do in this building. … Clearly, we need to raise the money to replace them.”

Lorin Wolfe, the theater’s chief financial officer and general manager, said NBT is in contact with the studio that produced the statues to see how much it would cost to replace them. When they were installed, they were part of an art package, and the value of each statue was estimated to be $10,000.

“That number could easily increase,” Wolfe said. “If you had the studio redo them individually, the cost could escalate, and quickly, in present dollar.”

NBT has been discussing ideas to ensure that the new pieces would not suffer the same fate by moving them, securing them differently and installing barriers to block vehicles.

But stolen sculptures aren’t NBT’s only woes. It closed a portion of its building last summer due to water issues. Three of its seven academy studios are out of commission.

Initially, NBT was alerted to the problem when damage was noticed in one of the storage closets. The wall was discolored, but no water was visible. The studios’ damage was hidden because the walls were covered with mirrors, and the floors are elevated.

“We had people coming to test humidity levels and water levels to tell us what was going on, and what ended up happening was, we kind of backtracked into what the real issue was, and that’s what led us to outside,” Wolfe said. “It was like peeling back an onion.”

The problem had been occurring over time, most likely when it would rain heavily, Wolfe said.

Destructive testing was done in August and removed much of the ground around the foundation in order to locate the problem’s source. Hoses were used to find the entry points for water. What they found was that the foundation, which nests into an incline by as much as 6 feet at the back of the building, had either incomplete or nonexistent waterproofing when it was constructed.

“Because of the raised floors in the studios, the water could have entered the building and then dried out without ever being noticed by anyone,” Wolfe said.
“ … As we pulled the landscaping back, we could see the defective workmanship there. It was rather obvious.”

The building was completed for the 1999-2000 season and built by Martin-Harris Construction. Calls to Martin-Harris were not returned. Nevada has a statute of repose of 10 years, meaning NBT cannot hold the original construction company responsible.

It will take approximately $150,000 to put the studios’ interiors back in order, said Wolfe, with the exterior, which must be done first, costing an additional $350,000.

Studios No. 5, 6 and 7 were affected, all on the west side of the rectangular building. Each studio measures 44 by 27 feet. Kratochwill opened one for a brief tour. Stepping in, there was a drop of nearly 4 inches below the door’s threshold, as the floating floor had been removed. The three rooms were stripped down to the studs and tented in construction-grade sheeting to contain the damage.

“It’s just been sitting this way until we raise the funds somehow,” Kratochwill said.

Having nearly half of its academy studios out of commission has meant some juggling for NBT’s more than 400 students, she said. A lot of classes had to be combined.

Barbre gave an example, where levels six, seven and eight were collapsed and taught under one instructor, in one room.

“The sixes are clearly not at the level of the eights, so the teacher has had to coordinate and teach the class so that all students are getting the correct training,” Barbre said. “And we’re preparing for our annual academy concerts –– ‘Don (Quixote),’ ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and a third dance concert. It’s really hard to stage the numbers when we don’t have the dance studio space.”

Barbre said TAL Studio, 10801 W. Charleston Blvd., is doing pro bono work to help NBT.

Some class schedules were changed, but the upcoming shows have further highlighted the need for space. Costumes were on racks near the entrance.

“We can’t do our full events because we don’t have the space,” said Shannon Cangey, academy coordinator. “We don’t have any storage because we’re utilizing (that) space … to dance in. There are a lot of ways you wouldn’t even think of. … Our dress rehearsal on the 18th, we’re going to have almost 300 people here just to run ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and they’ll have to (change costumes) in this hallway just because we don’t have those studios.”

Barbre said she was in the “quiet phase” of a capital campaign, reaching out to big donors individually. She said she would likely follow The Smith Center’s fundraising model, offering to name rooms after generous donors.

NBT’s new art director, expected to be announced soon, will afford the ballet theater another opportunity to gain new supporters, Barbre said.

She said she hoped all of the funds could be raised quickly so that the construction could take place in the summer, allowing NBT to start the fall semester with all the studios back in full swing.

For more information, visit nevadaballet.com.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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