Thursday, 02 July 2020 13:33

Saratoga Springs Stages Forum on The State of The Arts

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A panel discussion featuring local leaders involved in the arts was showcased during a Zoom meeting June 30. 

The discussion was moderated by Ian Berry, Dayton Director of the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College. Berry noted that these are strange times, yet stressed he remains optimistic. “This has prompted us to be better neighbors, to reach out, to share our vulnerabilities,” Berry said. At the museum, staff have worked remotely for the past several months and while the museum building remains closed, a variety of online offerings have been made public. 

The Tang Museum usually welcomes 40,000 visitors per year – about half of those during the summer season. The museum building is being readied for visitors with safety protocols being put in place, and a fall exhibition is being prepared that will feature 100 women artists in a celebration of a women’s right to vote, Berry said. 

Universal Preservation Hall - and the 19th century building it inhabits - underwent a massive multi-million-dollar renovation and staged its grand opening Feb. 27. Sadly, it was forced to cancel all shows less than two weeks later.

“I’m thrilled we were open – it was only 10 days – but a spectacular 10 days it was,” said UPH Director Teddy Foster. The NY Pause “was quite a blow. We worked many years to get the building up and running,” says Foster, adding that no large-scale music shows are anticipated til at least January 2021. An exhibition of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame pinball machines is slated to open in late July. Ticket information regarding the event is coming soon, and the exhibit is anticipated to be on display through the summer. UPH will institute a limited entry of up to 20 at a time for up to 90 minutes, as well as other protocols, such as face coverings, gloves and the taking of visitors’ temperatures. 

Cate Johnson, of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, said the museum hopes to unveil its newly remodeled and renovated Hall of Fame by late summer, and SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol reported the first of limited-attendance outdoor health and wellness activities gets underway this month. 

The SPAC amphitheater is projected to be dark for the duration of the summer, but other plans are being coordinated for use of the large outdoor space. A $ 9.5 million renovation project of the concession area/ year-round venue has just been completed and will soon be unveiled as well. The annual jazz festival at SPAC – which this year was remodeled as a virtual affair for three nights featuring three local artists and three national artists, garnered 10,000 views during the weekend, Sobol said. For more information regarding the summer plans at SPAC, please see the interview with Sobol, published in last week’s (June 26-July 2) edition of Saratoga TODAY. 

“This is one of our most challenging times in the city’s history. From art classes to museums, from dance recitals to concerts, no cultural institution has gone untouched," city Mayor Meg Kelly said. The economic impact of COVID on the arts and subsequently the community is large. The economic impact of just SPAC alone to the region is $100 million, Sobol said. 

The forum was sponsored by the Saratoga Springs Arts Commission in partnership with Skidmore College. Part 2 of a State of the Arts panel discussion will be held 4 p.m. on July 14. For details, go to: Saratoga-Springs.org.

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