Ballet Austin Auctions The Nutcracker On eBay, Sugar Plum Fairy And All - Works with Snap to ‘Breathe A Little Fresh Air’ Into Sale of Classic Ballet

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Ballet Austin is auctioning a Nutcracker performance on eBay. This is a first and may foreshadow an emerging approach for marketing sponsorships in the future.

Though Christmas is still 209 days away, early holiday shoppers with a few thousand friends might want to bid on a unique auction launched on eBay this morning that includes a rat king, snow queen and nutcracker prince, a sugar plum fairy, snow flakes that dance, hundreds of children, an entire symphony orchestra and all the sparkle dust you desire.

You may have guessed that Ballet Austin has put a December 2005 performance of its 43rd annual production of The Nutcracker up for auction on eBay for ten days in an effort to sell all 2,827 seats of Bass Concert Hall at The University of Texas at Austin Performing Arts Center (PAC) to a single corporation or individual. Choreographed by Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin’s artistic director and with live accompaniment by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, The Nutcracker delights children, ages two to 92. Ballet Austin is working with Snap (, the Austin on-line sales and marketing company that, among other things, successfully sold a 250-member marching band, twice, on eBay last fall.

Launched this morning at 10 am (CST), bidding is open for someone to jump – or jeté -- in to place the first bid on the performance, which will start at $49,999, and has a hidden reserve. The eBay ad describes the rich history of the ballet “which for 113 years has thrilled children during the holidays.” It spells out the benefits to the winning bidder – valued at “well over $120,000” -- including being a “hero in the community,” “realizing a surge in brand awareness” and “having an opportunity to entertain important constituencies and their families.”    

In addition to all the seats in the Bass Concert Hall, the winning bidder will have use of its facilities, backstage and the greenroom. Ballet Austin will provide catering if the bid exceeds $100,000. Dancers will be available for photos and other activities prior to the performance. The winning bidder also will get the chance to fill the role of Mother Ginger, which has been previously played by Lance Armstrong, Tom Kite, Michael Dell, former Texas Governor Ann Richards and current Texas Gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman. And if visions of sugar plums aren’t enough, Ballet Austin will provide the winning bidder with the benefits of a $15,000 sponsor so they can take advantage of Ballet Austin’s exclusive marketing opportunities throughout the 2005/2006 season.

“Ballet Austin has earned a reputation for performing classical ballets like The Nutcracker with fresh creativity and innovation,” said Cookie Ruiz, Ballet Austin executive director. “As we started thinking about our holiday season, we thought the timing was right to breathe a little fresh air into the sale of this wonderful ballet which has a 43-year tradition in Texas, the longest running in the state.

“We know selling the whole house of The Nutcracker performance on eBay is the marketing equivalent of a grand jeté,” she said. “But selling all the seats to one entity this early in the year will be a first for Ballet Austin. Selling it on eBay will be a first for the ballet world. We’re up to the challenge, and we hope a major corporate partner is, too.”

To increase its chances for success, Ballet Austin and Snap spent the last 30 days contacting the largest companies in Central Texas, leaders in major industries and high net-worth individuals to let them know about this unique auction in advance and how they might take advantage of this unique opportunity, according to Paul Walker, Snap CEO.

“The feedback on the eBay auction approach, the package and its benefits has been extremely positive,” said Mr. Walker. “This is an opportunity for a leader to step up and support Austin’s arts and community in a highly-visible, global forum versus the more traditional approaches which often go unnoticed.”

So how will the winning bidder fill the almost 3,000 seats? “In our brainstorms with companies, a number of good ideas surfaced and it will be up to the winning bidder to tell us their plans,” said Mr. Walker. “But The Nutcracker opens its arms to kids and celebrates their spunk and imagination. There are a lot of families with kids in Central Texas who have never experienced its magic – this could be their chance…”

Prospective bidders should go to and click on “Ballet on eBay!” to view the auction or to and search for “Ballet Austin The Nutcracker.” The auction will be posted in Snap’s eBay store, which can be viewed by going to and clicking on “View Auctions.”

Sidebar: The Nutcracker eBay Auction

  • Ballet Austin performance of The Nutcracker choreographed by Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin’s artistic director
  • Live accompaniment by the Austin Symphony Orchestra
  • 2,827 seats at The Nutcracker with a choice of the following dates and times: 12/9 (7:30 p.m.), 12/10 (2 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.), 12/17 (2 p.m.)
  • The opportunity to play the role of the revered Mother Ginger!
  • Exclusive use of the Performing Arts Center and its facilities, including:
  • The Green Room for entertaining 50 VIPs prior to the event
  • Backstage for entertaining 150-200 guests after the event
  • If the winning bid exceeds $100,000, Ballet Austin will provide the winning bidder with basic catering (drinks and appetizers) backstage and in the Green Room.
  • Ballet Austin will conduct pre-curtain ballet education sessions for kids and other guests and be available for photos.
  • Ongoing benefits for 12 months equivalent to a $15,000-level sponsor, including recognition in all Ballet Austin’s promotional materials, VIP tickets for all future productions and much more.

About Ballet Austin

Under the leadership of artistic director Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin has uniquely combined classical dance with innovative style and movement. Ballet Austin presents five productions each year in Austin, tours nationally and is a financially stable $4 million organization. The Company employs 21 professional dancers from around the world to live in Austin for 34 weeks each season. Ballet Austin II and the Ballet Austin Academy serve as educational arms that strengthen the organization’s core purpose. The Ballet Austin Academy is one of the largest in the United States, serving more than 900 students annually. Ballet Austin has established itself as a world-class company that makes ballet accessible to all and enhances Austin’s reputation as a city that thrives

in the arts. Its website can be found at

About Snap

Snap is a new way for people to sell high-end and vintage cars, collections and estates. The company helps its customers make more money and save time versus traditional channels. The company combines traditional sales and marketing approaches with new on-line channels, such as eBay, Ask Art, Craig’s List and Snap’s VIP Gallery. You can reach Snap at 512-632-8765. Its website can be found at

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