Oklahoma City Ballet Announces Partnership with Kirkpatrick Philanthropies
$2 million gift establishes the Yvonne Chouteau School of Ballet and John Kirkpatrick Executive Director Endowment
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — On Monday, October 16, 2017, the Oklahoma City Ballet announced a transformative partnership with Kirkpatrick Philanthropies, the result of a $2 million new gift which will support four areas of our organization: the professional company, the school, the new building, and the endowment at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. A press conference was held at the Susan E. Brackett Dance Center to mark the occasion, bridging the ballet’s historic past with its ambitious future. Three philanthropic entities have joined together to make this gift: the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, Kirkpatrick Foundation, and the Christian Keesee Charitable Trust.
In total, the Kirkpatrick family and philanthropies have given $2.7 million to the ballet since its establishment in 1972 by oilman and banker John Kirkpatrick (1908 to 2006) and prima ballerina Yvonne Chouteau (1929 to 2016). This new gift brings total Kirkpatrick giving to $4.8 million.
Beginning immediately, the school will be named the Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School, in honor of Ms. Chouteau’s career contributions as a prima ballerina, founder of the Oklahoma City Ballet, founder of the University of Oklahoma School of Dance, and recognition as a National Cultural Treasure. Additionally, the top administrative executive position will be endowed and henceforth named the John Kirkpatrick Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Ballet. The endowment portion of this new gift will ensure the Oklahoma City Ballet, its school, and its building will thrive for generations to come.
“The ballet is an organization my grandfather cared for immensely,” says Christian Keesee, president of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. “To pay tribute to his work by naming the directorship after him — and the school after his dear friend, Yvonne — is a fitting way to bring the ballet forward. Our hope for this gift is to continue the ballet company’s trajectory as a regional powerhouse with a strong school, which will impact future generations of Oklahomans and our city’s overall cultural landscape.”
The Oklahoma City Ballet is in the midst of its Turning Pointe Capital Campaign, which launched in December 2016. The ballet is headquartered at the Susan E. Brackett Dance Center, formerly the American Energy Partners Fitness Center. The new location, which opened earlier in 2017, provides much-needed dance studio space and dancer-safe floors.
“The Kirkpatrick family has been a steadfast and generous supporter of the Oklahoma City Ballet for many years,” says Sally Nichols Starling, ballet board president and campaign co-chair. “Our new, world-class facility and ongoing capital campaign provide a platform for growth and continued improvement of the organization. This new gift is critical to the Oklahoma City Ballet’s vision, and we are deeply grateful to the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, Kirkpatrick Foundation, and Christian Keesee for their extraordinary commitment.” To learn more about Oklahoma City Ballet, please visit its website at www.okcballet.org.