The good news is that $60,000 worth of Minnesota Ballet costumes haven't been damaged as much as expected.
The bad news is that the ballet remains out of a practice studio for the time being and needs a place to more closely examine its hundreds of costumes that were trapped under rubble for three weeks after Duluth's July 21 windstorm.
Volunteers spent Monday on a field at Bayfront Festival Park shaking out the filth and examining costumes from "Dracula," "The Nutcracker," "The Firebird," "The Carnival of Animals" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Most of them appear to have escaped severe damage from the storm that, with winds up to 100 mph and lightning, caused a 50-foot chimney to topple and crash through the seventh-floor roof of the historic Board of Trade Building, home to the ballet's studios and costume storage.
At first glance, "most costumes made it through," said the ballet's artistic executive director, Robert Gardner. "It's not as bad as we were anticipating."
Monday was the first time he'd had a look at the costumes, saying how "gentle and caring" in removing the rubble from the costumes the construction crew had been.
The ballet's costume inventory is worth about $60,000, including a $10,000 costume from "Firebird," said Mary Gummerson, the ballet's executive managing director.
"We are crying because we are so pleased with how much we retrieved," she said.
A crane remains in place outside the Board of Trade Building on West First Street in downtown Duluth as crews continue to remove debris and assess the structure. The building will not house tenants for possibly more than another month, Gardner said; while temporary office space has been found, there is a need for another practice studio once the ballet's school begins for the year in September. The ballet's company will be in rehearsals for performances in late September but will have to cut them short to allow the school's classes to commence each day if additional space isn't found in time, Gardner said.
The ballet has a special portable floor that it would need to install for the span of time the space is needed. The rescued costumes need to be hung indoors so each can be examined for possible repairs. Space also is needed for a costume repair shop.
The ballet's costume designer recently reached out to Duluth School Board member Harry Welty to help with gaining use of the gym in the former Duluth Central High School. He has asked district officials to allow it. School district business services director Bill Hanson on Monday said that the district would like to be able to help but hasn't yet had a conversation with the ballet about its needs.
Gardner said the ballet also was reaching out to the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Last month's storm was the second time the Minnesota Ballet was affected by severe weather in less than five years. During the June 2012 Duluth flood many of its sets and props, including the entire set for "Dracula," were damaged by flooding at a storage space.
News Tribune photo editor Bob King contributed to this report.