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SPAC visitors to notice new things this season

SPAC visitors to notice new things this season

Previews will be shown on a big screen before classical shows at Saratoga Performing Arts Center thi

Previews will be shown on a big screen before classical shows at Saratoga Performing Arts Center this season.

Inside the amphitheater before New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra performances and during intermission, a new 15-by-26-foot projection screen will show coming attractions, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from artists who will perform at SPAC.

“We’re going to try to see what we can do in-house digitally,” said Shane Williams-Ness, SPAC director of marketing and development. “This is something that we don’t see other venues doing, and we know that we have to change.”

Officials announced the development Thursday at SPAC’s quarterly board meeting at the Desmond Hotel & Conference Center in Colonie, as well as other new things visitors will notice during this summer season.

Members who pay Saratoga Performing Arts Center $1,400 a year will get an even warmer welcome this season.

A new 2,000-square-foot Patron’s Terrace will be unveiled in May to replace the Patron’s Tent where high-paying members can get free food and drinks. Jersen Construction is donating materials and time to build a bluestone patio, firepit, sitting walls and a hardwood bar.

The tent will remain and shield part of the area.

“Offering this benefit is a way of recognizing the support of our highest level members, whose giving accounts for 80 percent of our contributed revenue,” said Marcia White, SPAC president and executive director.

The venue has about 400 patron members.

Since 2007, a tented area was available for the patrons to mingle and get food and drinks, but it was on the uneven turf with curbs nearby.

“We’re going to eliminate the curbing, which had become a tripping hazard,” said SPAC chief financial officer Richard Geary.

The most visible change this year will be the new facade on the amphitheater. The previous facade has been demolished and workers are installing new concrete-fiber siding on the side sections of the amphitheater.

Shield-shaped steel panels are being fabricated. The shields will conceal sound system speakers as well as be a design element on the new exterior.

SPAC officials also announced Thursday that advance ticket sales have risen 40 percent this year so far, thanks to the organization releasing information about its season on the Web as it became available instead of waiting and announcing the entire season at once.

An online marketing campaign promoting the programs and the fact that tickets were available earlier on the Web this year led to the increase. The flexibility of online marketing has helped the organization, said Chairman William Dake.

“[In the past,] everything had to be delayed until you had the last piece of information to print a program,” he said.

SPAC’s marketing team also is using more social media to draw business, including email blasts, Twitter updates and Facebook posts as well as advertising on Facebook. As a result, its Web traffic has increased 62 percent compared to last year, said Williams-Ness.

Seven-year chairman Dake served his last full meeting Thursday.

He will step down at the organization’s annual meeting in May, to be succeeded by state Court of Appeals Judge Susan Phillips Read.

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