POINTE-CLAIRE – Sabrina Polewczuk has been dancing at Ballet Ouest de Montréal since she was 8-years-old.
She is one of the many students who will be performing in the company’s Nutcracker show this December.
But this year, things are a little different.
“We had five shows last year, five school matinee performances, specifically for school groups during the week,” said Elaina Colbeck, Administrative Director at Ballet Ouest de Montréal.
“This year, we’ve cut down to three because we know the public schools affected by the work-to-rule action are not allowed to bring their school groups.”
A big portion of the ballet company’s revenue comes from school audiences, so they said this year will be difficult for them.
“We’re a non-profit,” said Colbeck.
“We don’t make money normally. But this year, were losing a substantial amount of money.”
Ballet Ouest said although it supports public school teachers who are refusing to organize field trips and supervise extra-curricular activities, the pressure tactic is having an impact on students.
“It’s their first exposure to arts, ballet, dance and that’s very important to us,” said Colbeck.
“It’s sad – not just from a financial aspect, but it’s sad knowing that a lot of the children who normally come see our Nutcracker won’t get to this year.”
The work-to-rule action has led schools to cancel activities across the province.
Suanne Stein-Day, Chairperson of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, said that she has not received any complaints from parents so far, and as far as she knows, field trips are still going on as usual.
Meanwhile, Ballet Ouest said LBPSB schools that usually sign up for a trip to the show still haven’t called.
Andrew Ross, EMSB Parent Commissioner, said the cancellations are a short-term pain for a long-term gain.
“It’s a challenging time for parents and all kids,” he said.
“But we understand that teachers need to take a stand and put together these pressure tactics.”
Ross said teachers are fighting for better resources and services for students.
Until the fight is over, students at Ballet Ouest de Montréal said they are still going to dance.
“We’ll still get to do shows and that’s great for us,” said Polewczuk.
“But it’s sad how not as many people can come enjoy the show.”