The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has approved $1.75 million to rehabilitate and upgrade Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s amphitheater ramps, lighting and other high priority infrastructure as part of the recently approved state budget.
The funds will be used to rejuvenate SPAC’s facilities for future generations, officials said.
“We celebrated SPAC’s landmark 50th anniversary in 2016 and now, as we embark on our vision for the next 50 years, we are committed to enhancing SPAC’s historic venue for 21st century audiences,” said Elizabeth Sobol, SPAC president and CEO.
The new project is slated to be completed in advance of the 2019 season and will address the venue’s four balcony ramps, officials said. As part of the renovation, the ramps will be resurfaced and will include new panels and railings. Additionally, the lighting will be more energy efficient, while preserving the character of SPAC’s globe light fixtures.
Continuing to expand its role as both a cultural and community cornerstone in 2018, SPAC officials announced at its May 16 annual meeting that it is once again partnering with several artistic organizations such as Caffè Lena to present free concerts on SPAC’s newly constructed Charles R. Wood Stage toward the back of the SPAC grounds, formerly called the gazebo stage.
In addition, SPAC is collaborating with Skidmore College to present National Ballet of Cuba, slated to perform for three performances as one of just four U.S. locations on June 6, 7 and 8.
Sobol said SPAC will also collaborate with SaratogaArtsFest and Saratoga Shakespeare Co. to present “Shakespeare in the Pines” on July 20. The “festival within a festival” will feature a one-hour musical adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, directed by Folger Theatre actor, Louis Butelli in advance of New York City Ballet’s presentation later that evening.
In August, SPAC is partnering with miSci, the Museum of Science and Innovation in Schenectady, to present the “Out of this World Festival,” an exploration of the nexus between art and the cosmos. The festival of special events will take place throughout the month of August, taking off with The Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of Holsts’ “The Planets; An HD Odyssey” on August 3.
“The partnerships that we launched in 2017 with our beloved local artistic institutions like Caffe Lena, Skidmore College and SaratogaArtsFest have exceeded our expectations and affirmed the power and potential of the right collaborations,” said Sobol. “Looking ahead to this summer, we are excited to continue to build upon that success with a renewed commitment to partnerships with our cultural community and an expansion into new relationships with local businesses.”
In addition to fostering local artistic partnerships, SPAC announced its plans to collaborate with the business community.
“For the past 18 months our strategy has centered on outreach to the local artistic community. While these collaborations will continue to be a major thrust of our efforts, the next 18 months will be focused on building new partnerships with the local business communities,” said Sobol.
As part of SPAC’s mission to promote Saratoga Springs as a worldwide cultural destination, Sobol shared the recently announced news that the City of Saratoga Springs has supported SPAC with a $14,000 economic development award. This initiative, which launched this spring, is expected to continue in future years to spur economic development by promoting the city as a thriving arts community to journalists and media beyond the Capital Region.
Sobol reported that in 2017, new programming initiatives such as “SPAC on Stage” and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Bethesda Church, consistently attracted over 3 percent first-time ticket buyers to SPAC.
Sobol noted that early ticket sales for the 2018 season indicate that the “SPAC on Stage” series will once again sell-out all performances.
Expanding upon the success of 2017, SPAC’s free education programs in 2018 are slated to reach more than 30,000 young individuals, will offer more than 175 classes, presentations, performances, and events, and will partner with more than 80 schools and non-profit organizations across the greater Capital Region.
At the meeting, Sobol reported on SPAC’s new branding and marketing direction, which was established to better reflect its place within the Spa State Park and the Saratoga Springs community. In January 2018, SPAC launched a new website designed to be more user-friendly and showcase the depth of the SPAC experience in addition to marketing that is more evocative and experiential.
The board welcomed David Jersen, CEO of Jersen Construction Group, as a new member. Former board member John Nigro was named a trustee of counsel at the meeting. He joined the board in 2005 and has served as treasurer and facilities chair, in addition to serving as a philanthropic leader.