The Honorable Thomas P. DiNapoli
New York State Comptroller
Office of the State Comptroller
Division of State Government Accountability
110 State Street, 11th Floor
Albany, NY 12236
December 1, 2012
Dear Mr. DiNapoli,
I am writing today on behalf of the effort to save the New York City Ballet’s summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which, in 2013, will be diminished to merely one week. I believe this decision places the future of SPAC in jeopardy.
On February 27, 2004, more than eight years ago, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) commenced an audit of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Inc. (SPAC). Most of the findings and recommendations from that audit have never been instituted.
While SPAC is a private, non-profit entity, it is unique in that it enjoys a significant asset at public expense in the form of its rent-free license for its premises. It is dependent on the state’s ownership and responsibility for capital facilities and receives both direct and indirect publicly funded support for its purposes and programs. I ask that your office inquire into its current operations, based on recently legislated initiatives.
First, a Governor's task force was appointed to investigate the executive and administrator compensation levels at not-for-profits that receive taxpayer support from the State. The State Comptroller is responsible for ensuring that the taxpayers’ money is being used effectively and efficiently to promote the common good. The current administration at SPAC has ignored the recommendations made by the State and is not operating efficiently or effectively. The Executive Director’s salary and experience is not benchmarked against similar positions at like venues and is excessive.
Second, as part of an ongoing effort to make government more transparent, accessible and accountable to New Yorkers, the Comptroller’s office selected the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to be audited this year and a report was issued on October 26. As a follow-up to that procedure, I request that OPRHP initiate an audit to determine the financial standing at SPAC, a facility that receives significant public support, and why the recommendations from the OPRHP 2004 audit have not been followed.
ATT, Page 2: Pertinent recommendations
Pertinent Recommendations from 2004 Audit
Request for 2012 investigation
• SPAC’s financial difficulties are the result of inadequate fundraising and outside support.
• The President, an employee of SPAC, does not perform at the level commensurate with her compensation. The duties of the SPAC President and its Director of Development should be clearly defined, performance goals established, and compensation awarded based on attainment of those goals, commensurate with similar positions in like organizations.
• SPAC needs to reaffirm its mission and commitment to the fine arts.
• The fundamental purpose for SPAC is centered on its music and dance residencies, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet. These two internationally renowned cultural organizations are much more than tenants that occupy space at the performing arts center during the summer months, they are true partners with SPAC and have been at the core of its mission since its inception.
• Due to the past and continuing investment of public funds in SPAC, it would be appropriate for the public to have a greater voice in the operation of the corporate affairs of SPAC.
• Compensation provided should be tied to specific goals and performance expectations that are clearly defined at the beginning of each fiscal year and benchmarked to appropriate similar venues.
• SPAC is disproportionately dependent on ticket sales and on Clear Channel and needs to revitalize its Endowment Committee.
• SPAC should hire an experienced fundraiser.
• SPAC should analyze fundraising expenses on an annual basis and benchmark their dollars raised to expenses incurred.
• SPAC consider increasing the size of the Board of Directors and explore items such as members at large, term limits and rotating committee assignments.