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SPAC in black for 8th straight year

New season to kick off Saturday

Thursday, May 22, 2014
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— As the Saratoga Performing Arts Center kicks off its 2014 season this weekend, the nonprofit facility reports it is in solid financial condition, with profits from popular music events and donations balancing out heavy losses from classical music and dance events in 2013.

SPAC officials said Wednesday that the organization finished in the black for the eighth straight year in 2013. The $63,571 surplus reported at SPAC’s annual meeting at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Spa State Park is due to record revenue received from Live Nation Saratoga, as well as from fundraising efforts.

“SPAC enjoyed a successful year financially,” said Treasurer Ronald Riggi.

A $1.3 million payment last year from Live Nation — which puts on the popular music series, including this Saturday’s season-kickoff Jack Johnson concert — helped overcome a $2 million loss on the venue’s classical music and dance performances. Ticket sales accounted for $2.65 million in revenue last year, according to the annual report.

Membership revenue and fundraising accounted for $2.36 million last year, nearly one-third of SPAC’s $7.6 million budget. Corporate sponsorships provide $769,000 and various other sources account for the remainder.

“It’s a season that never ends,” SPAC President Marcia White said of fundraising efforts. “People think when the curtain comes down that’s it, but we’re here 12 months a year. It’s 24/7. It’s all about raising money all the time. It doesn’t happen without philanthropy and a lot of hard work.”

With Live Nation holding 25 concerts this summer, including the Dave Matthews Band on May 30-31 and Phish from July 3-5, White said she’s hopeful Live Nation income will again provide significant financial support to SPAC. For country fans, the Zac Brown Band and Jason Aldean are also on the summer schedule.

A high point of this summer’s classical programming is expected to be the appearance of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet July 29-Aug. 1, performing “Don Quixote.” It is one of just three U.S. stops for the celebrated company this summer.

“This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” White said after the annual meeting.

Advance ticket sales for the Bolshoi have exceeded those of other classical performances, officials said, giving SPAC more advance sales than usual.

The New York City Ballet will appear for one week, July 8-12. The Philadelphia Orchestra will be in residence Aug. 6-23, with guest performers including cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

The major facility improvement visitors will notice this year is the new main parking lot, redesigned and repaved last year with $900,000 in state funding.

“That should significantly improve parking facilities as well as traffic flow,” said board Vice Chairman E. Stewart Jones.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will start a residency with six concerts in August, and the Martha Graham Dance Company and MOMIX will also perform.

Current board officers were re-elected, including Judge Susan Phillips Read as chairwoman; Jones as vice chairman; Riggi as treasurer; and Ed Lewi as secretary.

Two new board members were elected: Attorney Anthony R. Ianniello and Robert Jones, president of the University at Albany.

Planning is also beginning for a celebration to mark SPAC’s 50th anniversary in 2016.

The organization announced Wednesday that former New York first lady Margaretta “Happy” Rockefeller will serve as honorary chairwoman of the anniversary event.

She is the widow of former Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, and served as chairwoman of the SPAC board from 1966 to 1973, then as honorary chairwoman from 1973 to 1978.

The Rockefeller family was an early supporter of plans for a performing arts center at Spa State Park, contributing $1.6 million to its launching directly or through the Rockefeller Foundation, SPAC officials said Wednesday.

 
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