As they celebrate 50 years, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is working on several new initiatives to enhance community involvement in – and access to – the arts. From a new pricing structure with lower ticket prices to free events with local arts partners, the new initiatives are part of a larger strategy to “[strengthen] the bridge between SPAC and the community”.
“As we approach a new season and usher in a vision for our next 50 years, our strategy will be centered on engaging more people in the SPAC experience – audiences, artists, community partners and young people,” said SPAC president and CEO Elizabeth Sobol in a statement. “In 2017, we will make great strides in that direction through a host of initiatives that will enhance the accessibility and affordability of the SPAC experience while strengthening our impact in the wider community through new educational and artistic collaborations.”
New Gazebo Stage & Free Community Events at SPAC
SPAC will be replacing its existing Gazebo Stage with an updated structure before the start of the season. The existing, wood-framed gazebo was built in 1981. Besides having several areas with badly degraded wood, the overall utility of the structure was limited by its size and outdated technology. The new gazebo will be ready in time for the popular Gazebo Stage lineup of rising artists at the Jazz Festival and provide a stage space for SPAC’s growing focus on free, community-oriented programming and events.
Caffe Lena Summer Series at SPAC
This summer Caffe Lena and SPAC are introducing a new summer series on the Gazebo Stage, which will be free and open to the public. The performance schedule and dates have yet to be announced.
Expanding Arts Education at SPAC
SPAC is deepening its commitment to youth arts education with expanded programming in 2017 and 2018. “All children should have the opportunity to experience the academic, social and emotional benefits that result from participation in music and dance. SPAC’s vibrancy as a cultural venue and as a community partner is made stronger through educational outreach that engages our young people in these art forms, encouraging their creativity, self-expression and achievement. These programs are essential to our future,” Sobol said in a statement.
In-School Dance & Music Residencies
After the success of their first-ever in-school dance residency at Malta Avenue Elementary in Ballston Spa, which was met with unanimous enthusiasm by the students, administrators, and parents, plans are already underway to expand the dance residency to other schools and add a music composition residency.
The Fish Who Could Wish
August 11 at 3 p.m.
August 12 at 2 p.m.
This scripted, one hour interactive show was designed specifically for young children (ages 4-9) and presented in conjunction with the Philadelphia-based Project 440 founded by Philadelphia Orchestra bassist Joe Conyers. The show introduces children to string instruments through the adaptation of popular children’s tale “The Fish Who Could Wish”. The program will take place at SPAC in August. Attendance is free, but registration is required.
The Performance Project: Youth in Motion
Launched in 2016, this two week summer dance intensive is focused on encouraging effort, recognizing excellence, and building self-confidence among students ages 9-12. The program will culminate in a professionally choreographed dance production on the stage at SPAC on July 20 as the prelude to the performance by Che Malambo. This program is presented in partnership with the Capital District YMCA; the Saratoga Regional YMCA; and the award-winning, NYC-based National Dance Institute.
An expository curriculum that takes performing arts directly into elementary and middle school classrooms around the Capital Region, Classical Kids combines professional music and dance presentations with attendance at SPAC to experience performances by the NYC Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra. The program will reach 8,000 students in the Capital Region in 2017, a 62 percent increase in the number of students reached and engaged over last year. This program expansion includes schools in the Albany and Schenectady City School Districts and is SPAC’s first outreach initiative in the urban communities of the tri-city area.
New Value-Based Pricing Structure at SPAC
Recently, SPAC received a letter from a local resident who described a series promotion in the 1970s that allowed him to bring his young family to SPAC to experience the Classical Season on a budget. In response, SPAC is unveiling several value-based pricing options, including the new “Sampler Flex” package. “We are so fortunate that SPAC has a global visibility and three of the most renowned artistic companies in residence at its beautiful home in the Spa State Park each summer,” said Sobol in a statement. “However, SPAC is also the cultural heart and soul of Saratoga and the Capital Region. We are kicking off a new season with a renewed commitment to placing the SPAC experience within closer economic reach for the friends and neighbors right in our own backyard.”
Sampler Flex Package
Purchase a package of tickets of your choosing of one each from the summer residencies of the NYC Ballet, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at a 10 percent discount.
“Kids in Free” Expansion
In 2017, the “kids in free” lawn promotion for SPAC classical performances has raised the age limit to 15 from 12.
Budget Amphitheater Tickets for Classical Performances
This year a new $30 amphitheater ticket will be available in some sections for Classical performances, just $4 more than lawn seats.
Child & Student Tickets for Freihofer’s Jazz Festival
This year there will be $20 child and student tickets available to the Freihofer’s Jazz Festival.
SPAC Board Member News
In addition to the exciting programming and pricing news, SPAC also welcomed Judy Harrigan, Ph.D. and founder of Harrigan-Bodick, Inc. as a new member of SPAC’s board of directors. A Saratoga resident who has supported SPAC as a patron, founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and 50th Anniversary Contributor, Harrigan will be bringing years of experience as a market research executive and consultant to the board. “With her impressive professional accomplishments and leadership record, [Judy Harrigan] has a perspective that will be invaluable as SPAC moves towards a new vision,” Sobol commented in a statement.
Former board chairman Hon. Susan Phillips Read was named a trustee of counsel. Currently serving as counsel for the law firm Greenberg Traurig, Judge Read was a former Associate Judge for the New York State of Appeals, has been a member of SPAC since the mid-1970s and served on the SPAC board from 2008-2016. “Judge Read’s exceptional leadership as chair and lifelong passion for SPAC have enriched this organization immeasurably. We are fortunate and grateful that she will continue to bring her voice and talents to SPAC as we chart a course forward,” said Sobol in a statement.