Urgent Message from Our Board of Directors

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Dear Joy of Motion Students and Parents,

First, this letter is long, but very important — so thank you in advance for sticking with us.

As you may know, after decades of consistent leadership, Joy of Motion has experienced significant leadership turnover recently, including three Executive Directors and two interim EDs since 2014. This past February, then-Executive Director Steve Barberio resigned unexpectedly, and so Helen Hayes and Vanessa Rowan agreed to step up and lead the organization in interim roles: Program Director and Managing Director.

In the last couple years, we’ve made great strides: the formation of LEAP!, Devenio in Motion, and American Dance Conservatory, expansion of our need-based financial aid and school partnership programs, and the launch of the Modern Dance Master Class series. We served more than 7,600 unique students in the last 12 months and have been actively growing our fundraising.

At the same time, we relocated our main offices, added a fourth studio space in Friendship Heights, and substantially revised our employee structure. Taken altogether, these changes greatly reduced our cash reserves. In recent weeks, our interim leadership alerted the Board to a substantial cash flow problem that was escalating more quickly than previously anticipated. The Board and leadership are fully committed to righting the financial ship together and truly believe we can do so by September. However, this will take time and require some difficult changes in the near-term.

Here is where things stand:

  • While we do not have substantive debt, we also don’t have enough cash on hand to continue operating as we have been.
  • We have implemented significant cuts in faculty and staff compensation across all levels.

Throughout this, Joy of Motion students who are enrolled or planning to enroll are our top priority and we are fully committed to moving forward together. Here is what you need to know:

  • Youth & adult students who are enrolled in Winter/Spring or Spring Series classes will have class as scheduled, although we do anticipate some changes to next week’s schedule. Please check the website (and your email) this coming Sunday and Monday.
  • For youth students (Grades 1-12) who are performing at the Joy of Motion Dance Festival on June 10, there will be a performance as planned; however, we will be switching to the “rain plan” and hold the performance indoors at the Jack Guidone Theatre at JOM | Friendship Heights and at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Once details are in place, you will be notified of the exact time and place of your child’s performance.
  • For students who are already enrolled in Summer Camp or are planning to enroll, camp will go on as planned.
  • For adults or youth already enrolled in Summer Series classes, your class will run as planned; classes that do not yet have anyone enrolled may be removed from the schedule.
  • If you auditioned for a Dance Institute program (or you are planning to audition for a Youth Performance Company), you will still receive a decision this spring — and if you are thinking about auditioning, please do! We want to make these programs as strong as possible in the fall.
  • Adult drop-in classes will run whenever possible. Please check the website before you head to class to verify the teacher, date, time, and location.

In more detail, here is what else we are doing to right the ship:

  • Our Board now has the full financial picture of the organization and is monitoring the situation very closely.
  • We’re engaging in an in-depth analysis of every program to determine where philanthropic support is most needed.
  • Our interim Program Director and Managing Director, Helen and Vanessa, have committed to staying on until this is resolved; the Board is truly grateful for their continued service to Joy of Motion and continues to have full confidence in their leadership.
  • Our director-level employees have agreed to work for minimal pay and Board members are volunteering their time around the clock.
  • Staff and faculty have been offered a reduced hourly rate for their time.
  • Events for which we have paid in full already will happen as planned, such as this weekend’s concerts.

Here is how you can help:

Joy of Motion has been a pillar of our community for decades. We are committed to emerging from this challenge and continuing to do our powerful, creative work. Help us keep going. Volunteer. Donate. Tell your teachers and studio staff how much you appreciate them. They are all making substantial sacrifices to continue to keep our community dancing.

Thank you, thank you for your understanding and patience. If you have any questions, please respond to this email and you will receive a response from a Board member as soon as possible.

The Board of Directors at Joy of Motion Dance Center