Saratoga County

Judge to succeed Dake as SPAC board leader

William P. Dake will step down as chairman of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s board of directo

William P. Dake will step down as chairman of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s board of directors early next year, and state Court of Appeals Judge Susan Phillips Read will become the new leader.

“Bill Dake was an indispensible person … The ship has been righted,” Read said at Thursday’s board meeting at The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center.

Dake, who is chairman of the board of Stewart’s Shops, became SPAC board chairman in 2005. At that time SPAC’s budget was in the red and its management in question.

Read said Dake’s leadership turned the not-for-profit organization around. In recent years SPAC, which offers classical ballet and orchestra programs and contemporary concerts in arts center in Saratoga Spa State Park, has ended each year with a small budget surplus despite the difficult economic times.

Read will formally become chairwoman in May, according to SPAC officials. She was appointed to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, in 2003.

The board of directors adopted an $8.3 million 2012 budget at the meeting, which is 6 percent larger than this year’s.

Richard Geary, SPAC’s chief financial officer, said the 2012 budget is another “break-even” spending plan. Geary said SPAC hasn’t increased ticket prices since 2008 but may consider doing so in 2012. No decision was made at the meeting.

SPAC officials expect about the same attendance in 2012 as in 2011 for classical programs — the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra — but are hoping for increased numbers at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, which will be held June 30 and July 1. Attendance at the Jazz Festival, which will mark its 35th year in 2012, has dropped off in recent years, Geary said. In 2007 a total of 14,000 attended the two-day festival but only 8,500 attended this year.

SPAC will create one new position in 2012 but there will be no increases in salaries or expenses for the staff.

Dake discussed the importance for SPAC to interact with its audiences and tell the public about the many things that SPAC does in addition to the classical programs and rock concerts. With this in mind, the SPAC staff has developed “The Building of a Season” multimedia program that will allow people to become engaged as early as possible in the 2012 SPAC season.

Marcia White, SPAC president and executive director, said The Building of a Season is an initiative that features weekly online announcement of the artists or programs that will be part of the 2012 SPAC season.

A new artist or program will be announced each Thursday.

White said digital technology will be used to display information in such places as the inside of the SPAC amphitheater before and after live performances. The information will also be displayed on the large, new digital video sign near SPAC’s entrance on Route 50 in Saratoga Springs.

The Building of a Season feature can currently be seen on SPAC’s web site ( The information will also be available on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. White said the new program will give SPAC patrons and the general public an inside view of how the 2012 summer entertainment season is developed.

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