COLONIE: Keeping the Egg sunny side up

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center Corp. has selected Neil J. Davidoff as its new chairman, a spot that has been vacant for two years.

Davidoff, 64, of Loudonville is former deputy commissioner of the state Office of General Services, a position he retired from two years ago.

While at General Services, Davidoff served as an ex-officio member of the board of the performing arts center. He has worked closely with other members over the past five years and developed a good working relationship with executive director Peter Lesser.

He said he is confident that relationship will continue to steer the performing arts center, popularly known as the Egg, toward the success it has become accustomed to.

It's a real treasure. I was there during a time when they made significant changes. They hired Peter, put in a new acoustical system and new seats, said Davidoff.

He said he can always bring new ideas and thoughts to his newly appointed position, but he added that much of the success in recent years at the Egg and other venues has been through the momentum set in motion by current staff and board members.

That doesn't mean sitting back will be his contribution, he added.

"He is very well aware of how we work," said Lesser. "He has seen the operation from both sides. The learning curve will be non-existent."

Lesser was hired five years ago, at a time when the state doubled the center's annual budget and begin to revamp the facilities. The Egg began landing more and more international acts, community outreach and education multiplied, and several projects and installments were added to the repertoire. The result was a yearly attendance rate increase to 90,000 patrons.

Now, with a $2 million operational budget in hand, the center is looking to move forward with Davidoff at the helm.

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