Saratoga Performing Arts Center to close fifth consecutive year in the black
Published: Saturday, September 26, 2009
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By PAUL POST
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Mirroring a strong local economy, Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Friday reported positive financial results from this summer’s classical and Live Nation events.
SPAC expects to realize a modest profit at year’s end, its fifth year in a row of operating in the black.
New York City Ballet average attendance went up 24 percent per performance, during its shortened two-week season, while Philadelphia Orchestra saw crowds increase 14 percent overall, thanks largely to this year’s better weather.
“We are very happy to be profitable and a little ahead of last year, especially since most of the arts industry is experiencing double-digit decreases,” Chairman William Dake said. “We are finding that Saratoga overall, SPAC, the track are
succeeding when many places are having a lot of problems. People are gravitating to our success. Obama didn’t come here for no reason.”
Dake was among the local business leaders on hand for President Barack Obama’s visit to Hudson Valley Community College on Monday, where he drew attention to the region’s high-tech economic development.
SPAC also reported an 8 percent drop in membership income, mainly from people who sign up for less expensive memberships to get better ticket prices, Dake said.
SPAC unveiled a new $50,000 membership option called Heritage Donor, designed for business leaders, philanthropists and arts patrons, which comes with a range of exclusive benefits. In 2005, several donors committed $500,000 each to SPAC — $100,000 per year for five years — to help the center get back on track financially following a period of declining revenues marked by inner management turmoil. The last installment of those donations expires this year, so SPAC needs to find new private sources, especially with government funding uncertain during difficult economic times.
Ticket income only covers
45 percent of classical programming costs. The rest must be made up by gifts and sponsorships.
“The need for private support is not only ongoing, but in many ways is even more urgent than it was five years ago,” SPAC President Marcia White said. “The pressures of the current economy and market fluctuations have decreased disposable income for people across the economic spectrum. This new environment necessitates that SPAC, like many organizations, transition away from reliance on a few major donors towards a broader base of support.”
SPAC has not reached formal agreements yet with the ballet or orchestra for 2010.
Dake said figures were up, too, for Live Nation rock and pop concerts. There were 23 such events this year compared to 17 last summer. Donna Eichmyer, of Live Nation, said the firm has a policy of not releasing attendance figures. However, two Dave Matthews Band concerts and a Phish concert were sell-outs.
SPAC and Live Nation, which books popular music events, have reached tentative agreement on a new contract, but the deal has yet to be finalized.
Dake attributed SPAC’s 2009 success to increased cooperation, partnership and promotion with other groups and organizations in the area. For example, musician Marvin Hamlisch made an appearance at Saratoga Race Course last month and SPAC’s Wine & Food Festival was held in conjunction with a Ferrari rally.
Likewise, SPAC offered patrons a variety of special promotions from free ice cream to fireworks and an American Girl Night, because valued-minded people look for any extra attraction they can get in today’s economy. “These secondary activities tend to catch their interest,” Dake said.
The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of saratogian.com.
Sambam wrote on Sep 26, 2009 7:34 AM:
" So Dake wants people to buy $50,000 membership option that he is calling Heritage Donors.
Why not call them what they are Marcia White donors. With her her salary of $245,000 (the last reported figure) not including benefits it will take six Heritage Donors just to feather Marcia nest.
NO THANKS. "
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