Dance academy

Closing of the MacDonald Island Dance Academy at the end of the season, studio rented to YMM Dance Company

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The MacDonald Island Dance Academy (MIDA) is closing at the end of this season, with the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo (RRC) citing low enrollment and revenue losses that began before the COVID-19 pandemic . The studio space will be leased to YMM Dance Company following a request for proposals posted online in March.

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“After an internal review, the RRC believes that private dance studios in the community are better equipped to provide an effective and affordable service to the community,” a statement from the organization read. “The RRC is confident that private dance studios in the region have the capacity and programs to meet the demand for service in the region based on feedback received from studio operators.”

MIDA was established in 2012 as a DRR managed, staffed and funded organization. At the time, there were not enough community dance programs to meet local demand.

But the RRC says MIDA’s revenue and enrollment began to decline before the COVID-19 pandemic, and has continued to decline since the easing of restrictions. The program is also expensive to run and has a deficit of over $347,000. Revenues began to decline during the 2016-17 season, which brought in over $98,400 in profits.

There were 545 dancers, or 81% capacity, enrolled in classes and the program in 2018. But that figure dropped from 509 dancers (72% capacity) in 2019 and 280 dancers (64% capacity) just before the pandemic. in 2020. Last year saw a slight increase to 343 dancers (68% capacity).

Meanwhile, RRC leaders say other programs have seen their revenue return since COVID-19 restrictions began to ease. The RRC also points out that there are at least 14 dance clubs which include different styles and are open to children, teenagers and adults.

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“All RRC programs aim for a capacity fill rate of 70% and, in addition, a break-even point of 25% profit margin,” an RRC statement said. “Programs that do not meet these goals are reviewed and subject to cancellation.”

RRC management says the review is ongoing due to declining revenue and enrollment, and the organization has not received any formal third-party complaints about the program.

It is not the first organization to come under scrutiny as revenues decline. The old MI Café was closed and the space leased to a new provider in 2020, for example, while further overhauls led to the creation of new office space. About 30 full-time positions, or 16% of the workforce, have been laid off as a result of sustainability reviews.

When the exam was announced, the parents and guardians of the MIDA children strongly condemned the motives of the DRR. Lyndsay Simms, parent of a MIDA competitive team child, previously told The Today that the criticism is “incredibly discouraging” for families after the 2016 Horse River wildfire, the April 2020 floods and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The amount the children in our community have had to endure is incredible. They just got back to doing what they love the most, and the rug just got ripped once again,” she said. “We were blindsided.”

-with files by Laura Beamish

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