Thursday, June 28, 2012

Time to Save the New York City Ballet again at SPAC.

Ballet’s future at SPAC still uncertainThursday, June 28, 2012By Lee Coleman (Contact) , Tatiana Zarnowski (Contact) Gazette ReporterText Size: A A AAdvertisement
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Officials at Saratoga Performing Arts Center expect to announce in about two weeks the fate of the 2013 New York City Ballet season.Until then, they’re tight-lipped as negotiations continue with the ballet, which is scheduled to start its two-week 2012 season July 10.SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia White said the ballet will be back next year, but she is not sure “to what extent.”Rumors that the season might be cut to just one week have disheartened fans who fought for the ballet to stay when its season was threatened in 2005.“I just can’t believe it,” said Louise Goldstein, who was involved with Save the Ballet in 2004 and 2005.She said that the ballet helped build SPAC, and SPAC now boosts the entire area by bringing people who fill hotels, eat at restaurants, buy fuel and shop at stores. “It’s a whole industry now here. It’s not just one company.”Ballet fan Lisa Mehigan of Saratoga Springs said she is willing to set up a charity organization to raise more money to keep the ballet at SPAC if need be.“I’m willing to do almost anything to help,” said Mehigan, who also was involved with the original grass-roots Save the Ballet group, which raised $40,000 and was instrumental in keeping the 2005 season intact.Mehigan, Goldstein and several other people are sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what happens. If future ballet seasons are threatened, they plan to connect with other ballet fans during this year’s season and get an effort going, Goldstein said.“It’s been very informal on Facebook so far,” she said.SPAC was built in part to be a summer home for the ballet, back when it was under the direction of the legendary George Balanchine. The performing arts center hosted its first ballet summer season in 1966, the year it opened.“This is our resident company,” White said.For many years the season was three weeks long, but in 2009 it was shortened to two weeks for financial reasons.Growing costs make it difficult to bring the ballet back each summer, White said, noting it now costs SPAC $180,000 per performance. Ticket sales cover about a third of that, and the organization’s independent fundraising makes up the rest.But with the ballet fees rising, White said it’s difficult to raise more money from donors in the struggling economy or to hike ticket prices and still attract patrons.“You can’t expect the public to cover the cost,” she said.At SPAC’s annual membership meeting in May, outgoing board chairman William Dake hinted that the ballet’s future at SPAC might be in jeopardy.The ballet raised its fee by about $100,000 this year and is proposing a $200,000 hike next year as it negotiates with SPAC, he said then.This week, White wouldn’t disclose numbers that are currently being negotiated.Dake said last month that SPAC officials considered cutting next year’s ballet season from two weeks to one, but the ballet company said that would lower the cost by only one-quarter.SPAC paid the ballet $1.57 million in fees in 2011, compared with $1.43 million in 2010 and $1.54 million in 2009, the first year the ballet switched to a two-week stand at SPAC. In 2008, SPAC paid the ballet $1.84 million for the last of its three-week seasons.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

joyous crowd, young and old bask in opening day of victoria pool 2012.

Perfect day for Victoria Pool season opener (with photo gallery)Adults like its calmer ambience, but kids fine too in classic styleSunday, June 17, 2012By David Lombardo (Contact) Gazette ReporterText Size: A A A Photographer: Patrick DodsonJennifer Oliver-Goodwin and her 1-year-old son Malcolm, both of Malta, at the Victoria Pool on opening day at Saratoga Spa State Park on Saturday, June 16, 2012.SARATOGA SPRINGS — Liam Oliver-Goodwin, 5, celebrated his graduation from pre-school by getting wet at the opening day of the Victoria Pool in the Saratoga Spa State Park.The pool is a big hit with Liam and his two siblings, said their mother, Jennifer Oliver-Goodwin of Malta.“They love it here,” she said from one of the coveted beach chairs surrounding the pool, with two of her sons in chairs nearby. Her husband, Richard, was slowly leading their youngest child in a loop around nearby chairs.Photo GalleryVictoria Pool opensEnlarge photos View thumbnails
The three children were among a small group of young patrons at the pool, which was mostly surrounded by adults lounging in chairs, eating at small tables in a cordoned-off area or enjoying drinks by an outdoor bar. The scene is utter serenity compared to the hectic goings on that characterize the spa park’s Peerless Pool, a haven for families with energetic and active children.Acknowledging that a different demeanor is required for the 77-year-old Victoria Pool — which has a couple signs leading up to its entrance reminding people that children are more than welcome at Peerless Pool — Jennifer reminded her children to be on their best behavior on Saturday.“I said to them, ‘We have to be gentlemen in here.”And they were all very relaxed, which Richard said is part of the reason why they like the Victoria Pool. “Our Saturdays are pretty crazy, so this was a nice opportunity to chill out after a busy morning.”That sort of relaxation has been enjoyed by Louise Goldstein for more than seven decades.“I have been coming here since 1940, when I was born,” said Goldstein, a co-founder of the Save the Victoria Pool Society. “It was open July 26, 1935, so I didn’t miss too many years.”She described the pool and surroundings as a “heaven.” Lamenting the fact that the pool wasn’t opened last month for the Memorial Day holiday, she said it was nice to finally kick off the summer. The pool was opened earlier than planned, though, with warm weather pushing up the start date of the season by a week for the second year.A lot of people had similar visions because the pool area was packed with people, including a lot of familiar faces. Goldstein joked that every summer the “usual suspects” can be found at some point before it closes in September. She added that the spot is also a great place to meet new people, as the pool and surrounding park attract interesting people from all over the world.For Goldstein, the attraction is the physical beauty of the park, which has been restored in recent years to reflect the charm of when it was first opened. The most striking features of the pool area are the columns and arches that surround it.There’s nothing else like it,” Goldstein said. “If you Google all the pools in the world you’ll never see anything quite like it.”She noted that while not exactly a secret in the city, the pool is still a “special place” for the people who frequent it. “There is some kind of magic.”The Victoria Pool is also open today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will begin its regular summer schedule on June 23.

Friday, June 15, 2012

save the victoria pool society pushes for an early pool opening again this year.

Saratoga Spa State Park pool dipping toe into seasonFacility to open for preview daysFriday, June 15, 2012By Tatiana Zarnowski (Contact) Gazette ReporterText Size: A A AAdvertisement
SARATOGA SPRINGS — If you want to go swimming in Saratoga Springs this weekend, you’d better get there early and be patient.The Victoria Pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for a season preview. It will close next week, then open for the season June 23. With a capacity of 350, the pool is known for long lines almost as much as for picturesque columns and arches.This year is the second straight that Saratoga Spa State Park officials have opened Victoria Pool for an extra weekend before its official opening, once schools let out for the summer. Peerless Pool also opens June 23.Things were in place to open a little early again this year, said park manager Mike Greenslade.“We have the [life]guards; we have the weather forecast,” he said. “This weekend is supposed to be beautiful.”The National Weather Service in Albany agrees, predicting Saturday’s high at 81 degrees under sunny skies and Sunday’s high at 83 with mostly sunny skies.With weather like that, Greenslade predicts the pool will hit capacity by noon, after which people have to wait for others to leave before they can join the crowd of swimmers.John Rudd, manager of Catherine’s in the Park, is gearing up for a busy weekend, too.The restaurant serves the pool and the state park’s golf course, offering pool patrons drinks and food outside on the terrace.“With the golf course and the Victoria Pool, it’s going to be pretty busy,” Rudd said.He knows people have been itching to take a dip.“They want to go to the pool and the pool hasn’t been open,” he said. “If it’s going to be sunny and 80, it’s going to be packed all day.”Business at the restaurant has been steady since it opened in mid-March along with the golf course, a month earlier than the usual April 15 opening, Rudd said.A busy weekend at the pool can help out the state’s coffers, too — last year’s first weekend at Victoria Pool brought in just shy of $2,000 in receipts, Greenslade said.The watchdog group Save the Victoria Pool Society often pushes for an earlier opening date, but park officials say staffing issues keep them from opening earlier. Most of the lifeguards are in high school or college, so the state park must wait until they get out of school.Greenslade said most of the staffers at the Victoria Pool are college-age or recent college graduates, so they are available this weekend, whereas the high-schoolers who staff Peerless can’t start work until the following weekend.“It’s a lot more labor-intensive, that one, and requires a lot more people,” he said of the Peerless Pool. “We just don’t have the bodies, basically.”The Victoria Pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and then every day at the same times starting June 23. The admission cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children.Starting June 23, Peerless Pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week. It is closed Tuesdays. To get to the Peerless Pool, people must first pay $8 per car to get into that area of the state park. Admission is then $2 for adults and $1 for children.At both pools, children younger than 5 enter for free and senior citizens living in New York get in at the children’s price on non-holiday weekdays.