Fresh off the heels of the San Francisco Ballet’s successful AI show Mere Mortals, the first commission in artistic director Tamara Rojo’s inaugural season, an anonymous donor gifted a record $60 million to the organization to support its upcoming works.

SF Ballet announced the donation on Thursday and said it was five times larger than the biggest gift received in the history of the troop, per KTVU.

As Rojo told the New York Times, “The impact is immeasurable … It’s a gift of new creativity — a gift of the lifeblood of what a ballet company is, and has always been.”

She told the Times that $50 million of the gift will go to the organization’s endowment, which currently stands at $108 million. It will use the rest for operating costs in the next few years.

"Thrilled, being awed and humbled," says Arturo Jacobus, interim executive director of the San Francisco Ballet, speaking to KTVU. "It's clearly an historic gift for SF Ballet and the world of ballet."

Jacobus adds, "The donor would like to see this historical gift raise the sights and inspire other donors to give bigger gifts to this company and other ballet companies. To be able to bring in new audiences is absolutely key to bring in new audiences with SF Ballet."

Like many other SF businesses, the SF Ballet is currently trying to recover from pandemic-related losses and disruptions. Ticket sales reportedly fell from about $22 million in 2019 to $18 million in 2022, although they were back up to $21 million in 2023. According to the Times, SF Ballet sells out only about 50% of the 3,100 seats in the War Memorial Opera House, the home of its performances, some nights.

Still, this reinvigoration should help the organization. Plus, last month’s world premiere of ‘Mere Mortals’ made headlines during its 7-show run and even sold out the last few performances as word spread. Many of those attendees were new to ballet.

Feature image of San Francisco Ballet in Aszure Barton and Sam Shepherd's Mere Mortals // © Chris Hardy