SPAC eyes facilities upgrades, ‘major step’ with winter programming

Plans to transform the current concessions and restroom areas discussed at board meeting Thursday
Family Night at SPAC in August with the Philadelphia Orchestra performing the score to the animated film "Up."
Family Night at SPAC in August with the Philadelphia Orchestra performing the score to the animated film "Up."

Changes are coming to Saratoga Performing Arts Center, physically and musically. 

During a SPAC board meeting on Thursday, President/CEO Elizabeth Sobol discussed plans to transform the current concessions and restroom areas. 

“While we will be announcing more details about the upcoming facility projects soon, we are delighted to share that the transformation process has begun and we are on track to have the project completed in advance of the 2020 season,” Sobol said in a statement. 

The concessions area will be completely renovated and education and programming spaces will be added to the grounds for year-round education programming. The restroom facilities, which are only operating at 60% capacity due to aging plumbing, will be expanded. 

SPAC is working on the project with New York State Parks Department and Empire State Development, among other partners. Construction is slated to start this fall and be completed before SPAC’s 2020 classical season, which kicks off on July 14 with the New York City Ballet. Sobol announced on Thursday that the ballet will give seven performances between July 14-18. The Philadelphia Orchestra will follow with 12 performances from Aug. 5-22 and The Chamber Music Society will perform from Aug. 9-25. 

Amidst the Philadelphia Orchestra’s season, from Aug. 12-15, the orchestra will perform Beethoven’s complete symphonic cycle. 

“Only at SPAC will audiences be able to experience the symphonies in this immersive and virtually unprecedented manner,” Sobol said. 

During the meeting, Sobol also discussed the addition of a winter season. 

“It’s a major step for us to become a true year-round presenter. We’ve been doing some programming here and there to test people’s appetite, but we’re really jumping in with both feet right now,” Sobol said. 

The winter schedule includes performances by The Vienna Boys Choir, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and VOCES8, as well as “The Nutcracker” by The Salzburg Marionettes and the continuation of the Live at the Jazz Bar series. 

The additional programming comes after a season a busy 2019. 

“Artistically we had an amazing year. We had a record number of premieres from every residency,” Sobol said, later adding, “When I came here one of the things that I was concerned with was that SPAC had sort of receded from the national and international consciousness in terms of major venues,” Sobol said. 

With the premieres, the additional programming and the growth of its educational offerings (SPAC served 49,000 students from around the Capital Region within the last year), the venue has received positive national press and, to Sobol, that recognition is a sign that SPAC is growing. 

While 2019 was successful in terms of programming, it was a challenging year financially.

“We were hit by cancellations like the New York City Ballet cancellation with the heat and YAMATO being cancelled because the visa was denied. But thanks to really strong fundraising and other initiatives we will end the year in the black,” Sobol said. 

Here’s a glance at the upcoming fall/winter programming: 

  • Oct. 17: Lecture Luncheon with Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review editor and author, in conversation with Sobol. 
  • Nov. 14: Live at the Jazz Bar: Latin Night featuring Alta Havana
  • Nov. 17: Nutcracker Tea
  • Dec. 4: The Vienna Boys Choir       (at Bethesda Episcopal Church)
  • Dec. 6-7: “The Nutcracker” by The Salzburg Marionettes (at Saratoga Springs High School)
  • Dec. 12: Live at the Jazz Bar: Swing Night featuring Annie and the Hedonists
  • Dec. 14: Orchestra of St. Luke’s Performs Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos (at Bethesda Episcopal Church)
  • Dec. 19: VOCES8 (at Bethesda Episcopal Church)

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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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