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SPAC's efforts to attract new patrons 'paying off'

SPAC's efforts to attract new patrons 'paying off'

'A rejuvenation of SPAC's facilities is needed for those to enjoy for generations to come'
SPAC's efforts to attract new patrons 'paying off'
Concertgoers before the Zac Brown Band concert that took place at SPAC last September.
Photographer: Amy Luke

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Performing Arts Center will undergo a $1.75 million rehabilitation and upgrade of ramps, lighting and other infrastructure. 

President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol said the rehabilitation is one of the main endeavors this year. 

"A rejuvenation of SPAC's facilities is needed for those to enjoy for generations to come," she said. 

The news of the rehabilitation came at the SPAC Board of Directors annual meeting at the Hall of Springs on Wednesday. 

Sobol also announced that new programming and flexible pricing options have helped SPAC attract new patrons. 

"We lost a lot of people as ticket prices climbed," she said to those who turned out for the public portion of the meeting. 

SPAC now offers promotions such as an Experience SPAC discount that allows new customers to purchase a buy-one, get-one ticket for shows by the National Ballet of Cuba, the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

There's also the SPAC Bonus Bundle, which gives those who purchase tickets to any two performances of the National Ballet of Cuba, New York City Ballet or Philadelphia Orchestra a third amphitheater ticket for free. 

"Last year, 50 percent of buyers of our $30 amphitheater tickets were completely new to SPAC," Sobol said. "Approximately 33 percent of buyers for SPAC on Stage had never been to SPAC before. 

"These efforts are paying off."

SPAC has also expanded the reach of its educational program for children from 5,000 to 23,000 children over the past 18 months. 

"Our goal is to double that in the next 18 months," Sobol said. 

SPAC's new programming last year included the Jazz Bar and SPAC on Stage. 

Freihofer's Jazz Bar at the Hall of Springs will be return this summer and feature live music and dance lessons at the Hall of Springs. 

SPAC on Stage was offered every Monday in August 2017 and gave the audience an opportunity to listen to music by artists who are performing on a stage just feet away. 

The center collaborated with New York City-based Rebecca Davis Public Relations, a firm SPAC has been working with since 2016, to promote the city as a worldwide destination for the arts. 

The City of Saratoga Springs provided SPAC with a $14,000 economic development award in March to launch the promotions initiative. 

SPAC's rehabilitation is part of nearly $8 million in capital construction projects going on around Saratoga Spa State Park, where SPAC is located. 

Alane Chinian, regional director for New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said that work includes the restoration of the Roosevelt II bathhouse, new ceilings in the Hall of Springs and Administration Buildings Arcades, and feasibility study of improvements to the Spa Little Theater.

"When the Home Made Theater uses the facility, they have to build their sets on stage, which prohibits other organizations from using it," she said. "We're looking at installing a fly system, which would lift the set up, as well as upgrading lighting and restrooms."

Chinian said the renovations are helping to make the park a destination for the arts. 

"We're planting the seeds for a park of the arts," she said. "We're making Saratoga Springs the city of health, history, horses and the arts."

SPAC's season kicks off with three performances by the National Ballet of Cuba on June 6-8, followed by the Saratoga Jazz Festival on June 23 and 24. 

For more information, visit spac.org.

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