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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 01/23/2017

SPAC must rethink decision to cut NYCB to just one week

SPAC must rethink decision to cut NYCB to just one week

*SPAC must rethink decision to cut NYCB to just one week *Pulling gun should spur automatic call to

SPAC must rethink decision to cut NYCB to just one week

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s decision to restrict the New York City Ballet’s 2013 residency to one week is deeply troubling.

Their choice to push the NYCB off a “fiscal cliff” will not just affect the economic vitality of area businesses, it will also place the future of SPAC in jeopardy by eroding its reputation and prestige. It is the latest in bad management decisions plaguing SPAC since the 1970s.

NYCB is the world’s most celebrated dance company. In the last three years, its Saratoga residency has fallen from three weeks to five days. NYCB dancers, staff and orchestra members rent and buy homes here; eat in restaurants; shop and buy groceries; and frequent local business during their residency.

Tourists drawn by the quality and reputation of NYCB performances spend money locally, too. The five days allotted to the NYCB next summer is not a residency, it is merely a quick stint.

The dance companies that SPAC will replace NYCB with could not possibly draw as many people, or as much fundraising support. While these replacements would make a fine addition to programming, they can’t replace audiences built over nearly 50 years.

All around us, arts venues — from Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires, to Proctors in Schenectady, to Glimmerglass in Cooperstown — survive and even thrive because they are run by experienced arts managers who have steeped themselves in dance or music all their lives. Given proper fundraising and arts management skills, SPAC could thrive, too. But if SPAC sticks to its current course, its artistic and financial slide will worsen.

There are steps SPAC must take to ensure its financial viability. Most of these recommendations were made in the state Parks and Recreation audit eight years ago but never followed. Among them: Hire a professional fundraiser — SPAC’s financial difficulties are caused by inadequate fundraising and outside support.

Analyze compensation and performance — the president, a SPAC employee, does not perform at the level commensurate with her compensation, which takes up nearly 4 percent of the center’s budget.

Reaffirm its commitment to the fine arts, centered on the music and dance residencies of the Philadelphia Orchestra and NYCB, which have been at the core of its mission since 1966.

Rely less on ticket sales and Live Nation and, instead, revitalize its Endowment Committee. Rely less on gimmicks like mounting cell phone antenna towers on the amphitheater as a substitute for solid fundraising.

Increase the size of the board of directors to include dance and music lovers, regardless of their financial status.

Join with the community. Due to past and present investment of public funds in SPAC, it is appropriate for that public to have a greater voice in the operation of the corporate affairs of SPAC.

Please join us to let New York state know of your displeasure. Contact Gov. Cuomo, and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Rose Harvey, and tell them that SPAC is headed in the wrong direction. Contact Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and request a new audit of SPAC’s books. Only political pressure may convince SPAC to reverse its course in 2014.

Don Drewecki

Galway

Lisa Akker

Saratoga Springs

This letter was signed by 10 others.

Pulling gun should spur automatic call to cops

Regarding recent mass shootings, some writers still suggest that guns do not kill people, but only people kill people. Do they claim that people own guns for the mere amusement of owning guns, but would never use them for their intended purpose? Do they keep their guns in a bank vault to protect against anyone ever using them?

Let’s get real and recognize that gun owners live in unreasonable fear of the outside world and intend to kill other people if they feel threatened and get a comforting opportunity to shoot. This isn’t rational for a civil society, but only suited for a brutish, dog-eat-dog and neighbor-shoot-neighbor world. The very essence of having a police force is to eliminate the shootout-at-the-OK-Corral mentality.

Pistols are designed solely for the purpose of killing people. It is only reasonable to assume that owners of these weapons intend to kill people. Assault rifles are designed solely for the purpose of killing many people. It is only reasonable to assume that owners of these weapons intend to kill many people. Why do we allow this?

The assault weapons ban merely recognized that those tools had no valid reason to exist except for massacre, and that they would be used for such if we allowed them into homes. Assault guns (and any rapid-fire weapons) are not even remotely connected to any right of self-protection.

Eliminating this ban served no interest except the morbid fascination of dangerous people who wanted to play with dangerous things. The resulting massacres serve to remind us that we all suffer from removing this ban.

We need to melt down all rapid-fire weapons and replace home pistols with a cell phone having a GPS chip and a 911 button. The country would be a better place for it. If we cannot even manage this simple improvement, then at least the law should require that all pistols and rapid-fire weapons be kept in a locked, secure cabinet, with an automatic 911-type call whenever the cabinet is opened.

If people are allowed to carry guns on their person, the only legal reason for withdrawing the weapon from the holster is for self-defense. The holsters should, therefore, be equipped with an automatic 911-type call whenever the weapon is withdrawn.

Arthur W. Haberl

Niskayuna

Great gun control ideas that would do nothing

I am writing in response to a Dec. 20 letter [“Several steps can be taken to control guns”] submitted by Mr. Henry Molt. In his letter, Mr. Molt offers numerous ideas to tighten gun control regulations. I especially like his idea of a $1,000 application fee and six-month waiting period.

Just imagine how many of the more than 50 shootings in the Capital Region could have been delayed if the street thugs had to wait six months to purchase their guns. (How about in Chicago — there have been nearly 500 shootings there!).

Of course, robbery statistics would likely increase as the young shooters begin saving their pennies in order to pay the application fee.

Here’s an idea — how about a $1,000 letter-writing fee and waiting period for letters like the one submitted by Mr. Molt.

Thomas Murray Jr.

Glen

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