Arts and Culture

The Power of Dance

José Mateo Ballet Theatre
Three ballet dancers stretching. The dancers are backlit, so they appear in silhouette

When NFF and José Mateo Ballet Theatre (JMBT) first met more than 15 years ago, the nonprofit was struggling financially. Today, its business model and financial management are strong and focused on building a robust balance sheet, and JMBT is widely acclaimed for both its artistry and its living commitment to diverse and inclusive communities.

Cuban-born founder and artistic director José Mateo is dedicated to demonstrating the power of dance in creating social change and building communities. Founded in 1986, his critically acclaimed dance company is complemented by an open-enrollment dance school dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusion as well as artistic excellence. He also created Dance for World Community, whose Annual Festival presents local performance groups, provides free classes in diverse dance forms, and features social service agencies that do advocacy around civic, environmental, and social issues. This year, José received a Commonwealth Award for Achievement from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which recognizes “extraordinary contributions made by the arts, sciences, and humanities to education, economic vitality, and quality of life in communities across the state.”

“José Mateo creates beauty not only through his art, but through his heart,” Anita Walker, the Council’s executive director, told the Gloucester Daily Times. “His outstanding artistry is surpassed only by the inclusive environment he creates.”

JMBT was NFF’s first client in Boston. Since 2000, our work together to build financial capacity has grown and evolved along with our respective organizations. NFF has helped JMBT with both financing and consulting – including a line of credit, a term loan for facilities projects and bridge financing, development of an outcomes-based management strategy, historical trend analyses, and multi-year projections of its business model and long-term facility needs. Since 2001, JMBT has shared space with the congregation of Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Harvard Square, pooling financial and human resources to advance restoration and conservation of the landmark facility.

“As NFF has broadened its services to the sector by developing many new and robust financial management products, one thing that has not changed is NFF’s commitment and ability to meet clients where they are,” said Scott Fraser, JMBT managing director. “I cannot speak highly enough about NFF. NFF staff are true capacity builders and leave organizations with an enhanced understanding of the role of finance in service to mission.”

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