Saratoga Performing Arts Center is embarking on a $5 million capital campaign its board of directors announced in May.
The board also elected two new members, Sonny Bonacio and Richard Higgins, both residents of Saratoga Springs. Leaders in their professions and in the Capital Region community, Bonacio and Higgins will fill vacancies created by outgoing directors Ed Mitzen and Nancy Toohey. Both served SPAC for nine seasons.
SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia J. White said the arts center is launching the public phase of its inaugural 50th anniversary capital campaign to raise funds needed to support SPAC’s future.
Noting that the “next 50 years are as important as SPAC’s founding 50 years,” White said over $4 million of the $5 million target has already been raised during the campaign’s silent phase. The goal during this next public phase will be to meet or exceed the fundraising target of $1 million in order to reach at least $5 million.
“In this milestone 50th anniversary season, we pay tribute to SPAC’s founders who achieved a goal of monumental proportions when they created SPAC,” said White. “Their vision was extraordinary and powerful. It motivated them to push past innumerable obstacles and financial hurdles to create a magnificent, open-air venue in the heart of the Saratoga Spa State Park. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”
“However, SPAC’s story and its financial needs are ongoing. Keeping SPAC strong and growing over the next five decades depends on a new generation of founders–our founders of the future,” White said.
She noted that funding for nonprofit performing arts centers is increasingly competitive and that ticket sales from classical programs cover only 40 percent of expenses. Each performance of the New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra costs approximately $180,000 to present.
A total of 57 donors, including 100 percent board participation, had contributed over $4 million to the campaign at varying levels by mid-May, including a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor, she said. Donors have the option of directing a gift to one of three categories: programming, capital improvements or SPAC’s endowment fund. Donors can also choose not to restrict their gift to one area, and instead allow SPAC to direct their gift to the area of greatest need.
Gifts at a level of $25,000 and above will be permanently recognized with an inscribed plaque on SPAC's new Patrons' Terrace Donor Recognition Wall, currently under construction. It will be unveiled during SPAC's 50th anniversary season.
Another fundraising success of the 50th season is SPAC's "$50 for 50" campaign. Begun in October 2015, it has raised $22,500 through 379 individual gifts.
"As we commence SPAC's 50th Anniversary Season, we are proud to continue a great legacy of passionate and dedicated leaders with the election of Sonny Bonacio and Richard Higgins," White said of the new board members.. "SPAC is at a pivotal time in its history as we strive to prepare for the next 50 years. Although changing socio-economic forces create continued challenges, they also create rich opportunities for growth and innovation in our artistic programming and our organizational operations."
Bonacio also serves on the boards of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, the Saratoga YMCA and is president of the Saratoga Builders Association. He is also on the board of Universal Preservation Hall and is chairman of its The Road to Opening Night capital campaign. He has received numerous industry and community awards, most recently earning the Capital Region Chamber's 2016 ChangeMaker Award. He is the president and founder of Bonacio Construction.
Higgins has served many years on the Shelters of Saratoga board. He is also on the board of Saratoga PLAN and is vice chairman of the Saratoga Springs City Center. Higgins is the president of Norstar Development USA, LP.
White also noted the Charles R. Wood Foundation has generously awarded a $100,000 grant to SPAC to support two vital arts education initiatives for Capital Region children: a new pilot dance program entitled the Performance Project: Youth in Motion and SPAC's highly regarded Classical Kids, which takes the arts directly into classrooms around the Capital Region.
White said the money will offer young people who otherwise would not have the opportunity, the chance to experience the benefits that accompany participation in the arts. SPAC's goal is to inspire and engage young people through participation in dance, music and the creative process, ultimately developing within them a stronger self-esteem and a desire for continued achievement.
In addition, SPAC has received a grant of $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the creation and performance of a commissioned orchestral work, "Unconquered," by renowned composer Michael Torke.
The world premiere of Torke's work, inspired by Saratoga's role as a turning point in the American Revolutionary War, will be performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra on Friday, Aug. 5, with principal guest conductor Stéphane Denève conducting.