SPAC turns to cyberspace, passes 2012 budget

Venure aims to keep patrons engaged in the off season

— “There’s no sense of welcome, there’s no encouragement to continue audience education, and clearly we have to warm-up our audience to better participate and continue the experience of the performance,” said White.

Board Chairman Bill Dake agreed with the new efforts to keep audiences involved long term. He said studies show that for acts to grow with the audience “they must interact and they (the performers) must educate” during shows. But although conductors and directors often explain the piece of music or dance that is about to be performed, he feels SPAC has “only scratched the surface with what can be done.”

To help, money for a new three-chip digital projector, a long-zoom lens, a rear projector and new server was donated by the Dake Family Foundation. The equipment will be installed before the summer season.

At the meeting, Dake announced he would step down as chairman and state Court of Appeals Judge Susan Phillips Read would take his place in May. Dake, who is also chairman of the board of Stewart’s Shops has held his position with SPAC since 2005.

Although outreach and promotion of SPAC was the focus of the meeting, the board also voted to adopt the budget for the 2012 season.

Rick Geary, the facility's chief financial officer, recommended a budget of $8.3 million, a 6 percent increase from last year. The arts organization broke even last year and Geary said he foresees a similar outcome for 2012.

However, the cost to keep acts like the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York City Ballet have increased. To regain the revenue, Geary suggested the possibility of increasing ticket prices — something that has not been done since 2008 — increasing the rent to Live Nation for concerts or placing a surcharge on all tickets that are given for free to sponsors.

In addition, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors plans to completely cut all funding to SPAC from its budget because of cost saving measures. The $18,000 grant makes up all of SPAC’s marketing budget for the annual jazz festival and officials plan to lobby to get the money restored. Although the jazz festival is in its 35th year, attendance numbers are continually dropping, so White said marketing is important.

“Something different has to be done,” said White “Artists don’t want to perform to an empty theater.”

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