Displaying items by tag: saratoga arts
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Arts Board of Directors has announced that Louise Kerr will serve as the new Executive Director of Saratoga Arts.
Founded in 1986 by and for artists and audiences, Saratoga Arts’ mission is to enrich the region by cultivating a vibrant arts community and by ensuring that the arts are accessible to all. In its 30-plus years, Saratoga Arts has brought the arts to over 1,000,000 people through its programs and provided performing and visual artists opportunities to earn over $3,000,000 in art sales and performance fees. Saratoga Arts is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that relies on the support of our members, friends and community.
Kerr is working currently with the staff on the first exhibit under her new role, which will take place late Fall. “As the new Executive Director of Saratoga Arts, this is a wonderful opportunity for me to return to what I love best – connecting and nurturing artists across all genres, at all points of their careers and working collaboratively on a local and regional level to promote and sustain the meaningful impact a public arts center can have serving the community,” said Kerr, in a statement.
Born and raised in Scotland, Kerr comes to Saratoga Arts from The Olana Partnership, The Historic New York State Park and Home of Frederic Church, the famed Hudson River School painter, where she served as the Director of Engagement and Visitor Operations. Prior, she was the Operations Manager for The Betty Cuningham Gallery in Manhattan's Lower East Side. She brings more than 20 years of diverse business management experience, both in New York and California, to her new post.
Saratoga Arts is located at 320 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. For more information go to: www.saratoga-arts.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - On Aug. 1, the public will be able to visit The Arts Center Gallery at Saratoga Arts, which has been closed since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first show presented to the public in its physical form after such a lengthy hiatus was selected in support of Black Lives Matter and racial equity in the arts.
“We want to provide a platform in this crucial moment in history to celebrate the artistic achievements and lift the voices of Artists of Color in New York’s Capital Region,” reads a statement issued by the organization.
Covid-19 social distancing protocols will be in place. Guests will be required to wear a mask to enter our space. Guests will also be required to sign in and sanitize their hands upon arrival. No public restrooms will be available.
Note that besides Saturday, Aug. 1 for the first day of the Black + Indigenous ARTISTS of Color Matter! pop up exhibition – which runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – the gallery will be open 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. The gallery at Saratoga Arts is located at 320 Broadway.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Arts has opened up the application process for its 2021 Decentralization Grants cycle. Designated as a Decentralized Grants Program (DEC) site by the New York State Council on the Arts, Saratoga Arts provides regrant funding for arts and cultural projects throughout Fulton, Montgomery and Saratoga Counties each year.
Saratoga Arts’ Decentralization Grants Program offers three categories of grant funding: Community Arts Grants for qualified organizations, Artist Grants to support individual artists and their work and Arts Education Grants for short-term artist residencies that take place in the community or in schools.
The deadline to apply for Saratoga Arts Decentralization Grants for projects taking place in 2021 is Nov. 6, 2020.
Informative grants educational sessions have been scheduled as a series of webinars from end of July through September, with additional live seminars on-site at the Arts Center that will only run if it is safe to do so at that point. All interested new and returning applicants are strongly encouraged to attend one of these sessions to learn all about our new fully online application process and other important details and changes in program guidelines made in response to the pandemic’s impact on the arts.
The first set of Grants Webinars will be offered through Zoom video conferencing
For more details on the application process, grants guidelines, deadlines, requirements and informational grants webinars, please go to: saratoga-arts.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Arts is currently seeking regional artists to apply for its 2021 Call for Artists.
Application Deadline: May 29 at 11:59 p.m. Artists who reside in Saratoga County and the eight surrounding counties Hamilton, Warren, Washington, Rensselaer, Albany, Schenectady, Montgomery and Fulton are eligible to apply.
This is an opportunity to submit artwork for consideration to be included in solo or small group shows in the center’s exhibition space on Broadway. For more information, go to: www.saratoga-arts.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Arts has announced that its Executive Director, Dr. Joel Reed, will retire at the end of March 2020.
Reed was appointed to his current position at Saratoga Arts – then known as the Saratoga County Arts Council – when its founder Dee Sarno retired in January 2007. Reed began working for the organization in June 2003 as its Associate Director after moving to the Saratoga Springs area from Syracuse. Saratoga Arts has seen significant organizational growth and presented a series of new programs since Reed joined the organization, while developing its traditional strengths in community arts education and exhibiting the work of regional visual artists.
During Reed’s tenure, Saratoga Arts took on new projects including: its adoption in 2009 of First Night Saratoga from the YMCA of Saratoga Springs; the commissioning and installation in Saratoga Springs’ High Rock Park of Tempered By Memory, the large-scale sculpture created from World Trade Center Towers steel; the expansion of the regrant program it offers in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts, from $51,230 for projects in Saratoga County to $123,010 which will be awarded this year for arts programs in Saratoga, Fulton, and Montgomery Counties; the continued growth of its education program, which offers classes, workshops, and school break program for over 1200 artists of all ages annually; and the development of programs with regional health centers to facilitate the acquisition of significant art collections by local and regional artists.
Saratoga Arts’ Board of Directors is engaged in a search for its next Executive Director; more information about the position and how to apply can be found at www.saratoga-arts.org/join-our-team.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It. Starts. With. Art. “Wherever your passion is. Community starts with art. Economies start with art,” Saratoga Arts Executive Director Joel Reed explained to the crowd gathered for Saratoga Arts’ Soiree at Longfellows Restaurant on Nov. 13.
“We all know how important cultural tourism is. It contributes that wealth to the hospitality industry, to sales taxes, to keep Saratoga Springs growing,” Reed said. The cultural traveler spends 60 percent more than the leisure traveler in the U.S., according to a 2013 Mandala Research report. And some local communities are realizing that benefit. The village and town of Lake George, for example, have contributed portions of tax monies collected for the rental of rooms in their communities – known as a bed tax – to fund music festivals and events which then in turn bring more people into the community who subsequently spend money at local businesses and stay in local hotels.
Since its founding in 1986, over 1 million people have come through programs and events run by Saratoga Arts, and more than $3 million has been paid to artists and arts organizations in the local community. In 2018 alone, over 42 grants were awarded totaling $125,000 and 78 exhibitions presented in the region, resulting in over 700 artists showing their work locally. This year’s fundraising soiree raised about $20,000, Reed said.
Since 2012, Saratoga Arts has honored the work of a variety of arts advocates in the region - Mona Golub, James Kettlewell, Elaina Richardson, Marie Glotzbach and Dee Sarno, among them. This year, the organization honored Hudson Headwaters Health Network and Beverley Mastrianni.
Hudson Headwaters Health Network currently hosts 175 local works, either on loan or as part of Hudson Headwaters’ permanent collection, which are strategically placed for patients to enjoy in 19 health centers from northern Saratoga County to the Canadian border.
Artist and Arts Advocate Honoree Beverley Mastrianni has helped shape the arts and cultural organizations across the region for over three decades – helping found Saratoga Arts and the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation and holding leadership roles with the Urban Cultural Park Commission, Saratoga Springs History Museum, the Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa, the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, and several other organizations.
“Anywhere in town you stand and look, we feel her work and impact every day,” Reed said, introducing Mastrianni, who took to the podium and recalled first settling down in Saratoga Springs in 1968.
“Downtown Saratoga was just deserted, there were 22 vacant stores, deserted except for a building where up on the second floor all the apartments were rented by artists,” she said.
In the afternoons, she would take her children to arts workshops and classes, which were spread out among houses all over town. The YMCA had just opened a new center on Broadway with a swimming pool and activities for kids. She was asked to join the organization’s board.
“They put me on the fundraising committee where I learned more about the city: who gave money and who supported these sorts of things,” explained Mastrianni.
While taking classes at Skidmore College, she was approached by Anne Palamountain with an idea to create a more visually appealing downtown during a two-week stretch in the summertime when families would visit the college.
“We went to the high school and we got everybody. Every kid who played in a garage band or who was involved in art,” Mastrianni said. “We got artists to start bringing their works downtown and putting them in stores. That went on for quite a few summers, and it really helped.”
She also revisited a time when the city was looking to sell Congress Park and the Canfield Casino to a hotel chain from Pennsylvania who wanted to put up a hotel and a windmill and use the casino for meeting rooms.
“There were a bunch of activist women who were really against that. They were really amazing, and a lot of fun,” Mastrianni said. “Minnie Bolster had started to revive the historical society upstairs in the casino and didn’t want it sold, so, we worked on that. The thing that really prevented it from happening? The lower part of Putnam Street and the park flooded a lot, so the developers decided that wasn’t a good place for the hotel. Left with the casino, a group of citizens who called themselves The Pillar Society started to get together and hold parties in the casino to raise money for its restoration.”
The stained glass was returned to the building and restored, and Mastrianni ran an art gallery featuring contemporary art within the casino structure. “One thing just led to the other, to the other,” she said, adding a story about the time a spirited group of locals had also successfully lobbied to site the arts center on the southeast corner of Broadway and Spring Street. The Arts Center landing followed the relocation of the public library to its current Putnam Street location as the city had designs on placing its court system there.
“There were an awful lot of people who worked on all these things and enjoyed doing it. The city is flowering now,” she offered, tempering her enthusiasm with a warning. “The problem we have is (while) showing art and artists from all over the region, there are very few artists who can afford to live in Saratoga now because the prices have gotten so high. Caffe Lena is doing a wonderful job, but there is no place for our musicians and artists to work. A lot of our artists are leaving us to go up to Glens Falls; A lot are going to Troy; There are a couple of art galleries open in Schuylerville now - but we’ve really got to address the issue of how we’re going to keep our indigenous artists in Saratoga Springs, because they’re living outside of town now,” said Mastrianni whose artwork has been exhibited at the Tang and the Schick Gallery at Skidmore, the Albany Institute of History and Art, and is held in many private and corporate collections in North America and Europe.
“I think the Arts Center does fantastic work – we’ve got a lot of stuff going on at Skidmore and The Tang, at Zankel - but we haven’t got the body of musicians and artists who live here and really enrich our lives on a daily basis. I think we should really be thinking about how we’re going to address those issues - so that we’re not just a big shopping mall, so we’re not just a restaurant city, so that we really are a city that supports artists who live in the city,” Mastrianni said. “That’s our next challenge.”
Saratoga Arts gallery showcases its annual member’s show at the Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway, through Jan. 4, 2020. Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 am-5 pm & Saturday, 11 a.m. -5 p.m.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Health, history, horses. And The Arts.
With the awarding of a $14,000 economic development grant this week, the city took the first step to promote Saratoga Springs as a worldwide destination for arts and culture. Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan calls it “having some skin in the game.” And that game has proven to bring in a notable return on the investment in other communities.
“Saratoga Springs is a fabulous brand. We’re over 100 years old and so is ‘health, history and horses.’ These are strong brands that you don’t want to get away from, but we need to add to it with arts and culture,” Madigan says.
The funds will support the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the hiring of a public relations firm to promote the city as a thriving arts community to journalists and media beyond the Capital Region. The goal is to showcase all of Saratoga as a cultural hot-spot and entice visitors to journey to the region.
“Cultural tourism – the cultural tourist spends 60 percent more when they go someplace than the average leisure tourist does. Sixty percent more. We want culture to be an economic driver here the same way the track is, and there’s no reason why it can’t be that, and a lot more,” says Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
“I know there are many, many people out there looking for a place like Saratoga as their summer or winter destination who would just be up here all the time, if they just knew what was here,” Sobol says. “This is one of the most incredible places in the world for someone who cares about the arts and literature and green space. I go back to the perfect confluence of nature and art, man-made beauty and natural beauty, there’s nothing like this in all of North America. “
From Caffe Lena to SPAC, the Tang Museum, Yaddo, the future home of the Universal Preservation Hall and other amenities, the community has much to offer, Sobol says. “All this art just one beautiful trip up the Hudson River from Manhattan. That’s a big selling point to New Yorkers who want to get out of town.”
Commissioner Madigan says she sees the awarding of the funds as one piece of a larger plan. “When you think Saratoga Springs, what do most people think of? They think horses. And that’s great, but we also really want to attract the cultural tourist by putting the arts and culture focus on that same level as horses,” Madigan says. “Right now. I see this as first step. I have a bigger vision where we start getting stakeholders and key members of the community in a room to talk about who we are as a region, to start coming together as a whole as an arts and culture community and to market ourselves that way, to add to the health, history and horses brand. The Berkshires know who they are. Tanglewood is well marketed as a global venue. From a global, international tourist destination, we don’t really know who we are when it comes to arts and culture.”
Recently, the local arts took a hit with the announcement of the cancellation of the annual Hats Off and Final Stretch music festivals. And promoting the arts in Saratoga Springs is not always an easy thing.
Saratoga Springs resident Robert Millis first launched the American Music Festival in Lake George in September 2014. Facilitated through his 398 Group – which stresses the arts as a driver of economic development and community building – the idea was to bring thousands of people into the community and extend the tourist season. Lake George is located in Warren County and financial support for the festival was provided via monies collected in the North Country for the tax on the rental of rooms. It proved to be a success.
This summer, the festival – which has featured performers such as Blue Öyster Cult, New Riders of the Purple Sage and Sawyer Fredericks in the past – returns for its two-day stint, and based on the success of the music-as-economic development initiative, the village and town of Lake George have contributed $45,000 in grant funding via the “bed tax” to Millis’ group.
“Their philosophy is bed tax funds events, which in turn feeds the bed tax,” Millis says. The village of Lake George is providing funding for a couple of events. “It’s a big boost,” said village Mayor Robert Blais. “It’s helped us to extend the season.”
Like other Warren County municipalities, the village of Lake George and the town of Lake George each receive $30,000 annually to promote special events in their communities with the idea of bringing in people that will spend money in local businesses and stay at local hotels, says Blais, who also serves as chairman of joint village and town occupancy tax committee. And the return on the investment has been strong. After the events take place, receipts and taxes received are then distributed back to the communities in addition to the $30,000 flat fee to promote a new cycle of events. In the village of Lake George that return was about $185,000, Blais said; the town of Lake George received approximately $240,000.
Millis’ attempts to create a two-day music-based festival in his Saratoga hometown has proven to be more difficult. The proposed event and conference would be designed to help boost tourism and build a music ecosystem to enhance the local scene. “I’ve been floating that idea in Saratoga a for over a year, but nobody has jumped on board with me,” Millis says.
“Our (bed tax) money has already been sliced and diced and it happened long before I got here, but it’s an interesting concept,” Madigan says. “Our occupancy tax right now is split. We only get one percent. Two percent from occupancy tax goes to the City Center and two percent goes to convention and tourism. It goes directly to them. We get less than City Center and convention and tourism. The city gets $600,000, they’re getting $1.2 million each. So, I’m trying to get them on board with helping with the arts. Look, the city’s got some skin in the game so let’s get the chamber and convention and tourism also involved.
“To me, the arts is a huge part of economic development,” Madigan explained. “It’s untapped. This I think is economic development, under the guise of arts and culture. This is a first step. I look forward to coming forward with additional recommendations to support economic development and arts and culture as an aspect of that. “
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A pair of music-centric street festivals which bookended the start and conclusion of the Saratoga racing meet for a generation are no more.
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, main sponsors of the Hats Off and Final Stretch festivals, announced this week that it will instead feature a “Welcome Back to Racing” fan event promoting bands performing at a variety of on-site locations at bars, restaurants and hotels.
“It’s a different downtown than it was 30 years ago,” said Chamber President Todd Shimkus. “We have so many more bars and restaurants. We think a better way to spend our time and money is to promote all the different bands playing at all the different restaurants. So, instead of us closing streets and setting up bands and stages, we’re going to collectively promote everything that’s going on inside the restaurants, bars and hotels downtown.”
Last year, the festival featured five bands each night over the course of the two-day festival, down from eight bands that performed at eight different venues each night just six years earlier, and the 10 bands who performed at the free festival in 2004. At that time, there were approximately one dozen different businesses and organizations sponsoring the event along with the Chamber and the New York Racing Association.
The cost to stage the events totals more than $30,000 and while Shimkus acknowledged sponsoring entities like NYRA and others are not contributing as much as they once had in years past, he said money is not a driving force in the Chamber’s decision. “For us, it was the fact that we think there is a better alternative that is more supportive of the entire downtown.”
Shimkus also refuted some public comments that have been made, including some raised during this week’s City Council by local residents, that fears of vehicular terrorism played a role in the festival’s cancellation.
“I can absolutely guarantee you the notion of a terroristic attack had nothing to do with our decision to make this change,” Shimkus said.
The Hats Off festival, later complemented by the season-ending Final Stretch festival, was first staged in the 1990s as a way to increase crowds for the annual opening weekend of the racing season.
“NYRA came up and Ed Lewi was with them and they were discussing what they could do to build up the attendance at the races on the first and the last weekend,” recalled Joe Dalton, who ran the Saratoga County Chamber for 40 years, before retiring in 2010.
“The Chamber basically put it together – myself, and Ed Lewi. NYRA said they would put up half the money and we would raise the other half. And it went very well,” Dalton said. “It attracted people and built up the first and last week of racing, attendance-wise. It benefitted the town and NYRA. Over the years, though, it built up so much that both of those weekends now have big crowds coming, so the need for it dissipated.”
Susan Farnsworth was hired by the Chamber to coordinate the Hats Off and Final Stretch festivals, which she did for for 17 years. Among her duties were hiring a team that set up and tore down the staging, supplying equipment, securing city permits and coordinating with the police, and collaboratively working to secure sponsors and to hire bands
“The Hats Off Festival would draw about 20,000 people each night; Final Stretch drew about 15,000 the first night, and about 10,000 on the second evening,” said Farnsworth, who currently lives in Israel. “My favorite part of the festivals was watching people enjoying the music, seeing children dancing; The atmosphere was fun, friendly, welcoming. It helped secure Saratoga Springs’ reputation as one of the best small cities in America,” she said.
Farnsworth recalled how some visitors would schedule their trips to Saratoga to coincide with the festivals. “The original purpose (of the festivals) was to bring more visitors to town the first and last day of racing,” she said. “I am very sad to see this tradition end, but times change.”
“The primary change is that Hats Off has largely been, for 30-plus years, a bunch of bands the Chamber has paid for, with staging outside and downtown in a variety of different places,” Shimkus says.
“This last year, we had a stage on Caroline Street. We closed the road. We had security there. We paid for a band. What we saw was that Saratoga City Tavern (also) had a band, Gaffney’s had a band, Spa City Tap and Barrel had a band – everybody on Caroline Street that had a space, had a band, and we went: What are we doing?”
Plans are being formulated to sponsor a July festival – it may be staged the Thursday prior to Opening Day – in and around existing bars and restaurants and could include locations such as Hattie’s alleyway, Henry Street venues and on Beekman Street.
The Hats Off festival, which ran from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, largely drew crowds 21 and over. “Maybe that wasn’t the case 10 years ago, but it is now. Families are not coming to the Hats Off festival,” Shimkus said. The specifics will be decided in the new year.
“Everybody out there that’s freaking out, just be a little patient and know that the Chamber has always done what’s in the best interests of the downtown,” Shimkus said. ‘When we announce our final plans, I think everyone will go: ‘Wow, that’s a really good idea.’”
INSIDE THE RIGGI THEATER, the stage lights flare bright, illuminating a scatter of white paper scripts, clipboards and heavy binders strewn about the cherry-red seats. Actors mill about, waiting their turn to audition atop the stage.
“Can you do a cold scene?” an actor sporting a man bun is asked.
“Yes,” replies manbun. “Is it OK if I put you in a headlock?”
Inside the theater, it is the middle of the summer on a weekday afternoon. Onstage it is June 1967, the time of the Monterey International Pop Festival, where the Who famously blew up their instruments and Jimi Hendrix set his guitar ablaze.
“Let’s do The John Scene,” suggests Mary Jane Hansen, who scripted the play, titled “American Soup.” The actor quickly falls into character.
“I don’t want to go swimming!” he exclaims. “I want to go see the Jefferson Airplane!”
Four months later, multiple auditions have been held, rehearsals staged and the cast in place and ready to present the production, which will take place at the National Museum of Dance Dec. 14-23.
“American Soup” - presented by iTheatre Saratoga, a division of The Creative Place International - is a celebration of pop culture and the landmarks of history on the evolution of the American spirit, Hansen says. It features the adventures of two American families in Queens, N.Y. living through events at the time – the moon landing, Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination - juxtaposed with Andy Warhol’s philosophy. CPI founding member John McGuire portrays the role of Andy Warhol.
“You have three things going on at the same time. You’ve got Andy. You’ve got the family in the restaurant. And there’s a band - music plays a big role in the play - and they all weave together,” explains Hansen, who grew up in Whitestone, in the north section of Queens.
Live music from the 1960s to the turn of the millennium provokes a visit to where and who we were, say show organizers, and “American Soup” reminds that there is hope, even during our darkest times.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This weekend’s concert by The Orchestra of St. Luke’s will mark the second of six concerts brought to Saratoga Springs this year born of a newly forged partnership between Caffè Lena and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The collaboration between the two venues, each which has staged more than a half-century of performances, will encompass jointly curated and presented programs at both venues, with the location varying by season.
The Orchestra of St. Lukes, one of Americas foremost chamber orchestras, will make a first-ever appearance in the Capital Region on April 25 in an exclusive performance at Lena’s café.
“I was in New York in January talking with some friends over coffee when they mentioned they had this program of baroque chamber music they were doing,” recalled SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol. “It was written by Bach to be performed at Café Zimmerman - a coffeehouse in Leipzig where all the artists and intellectuals would gather at the time Bach was living there. When I heard it was at a coffeehouse, I thought: Oh my God, that has got to come to Caffè Lena. It’s a perfect collaboration between SPAC and Caffè Lena.”
And while this weekend’s show is sold out, tickets are still available for the third spring program, which will be staged at Caffè Lena May 4 and features Louisville, Kentucky-based folk band Harpeth Rising. Tickets are available at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2910973.
In June, the series shifts to SPAC, where three free Sunday afternoon concerts, one each in June, July, and August will be staged at the new gazebo.
“Very soon we’ll be announcing the summer component to the partnership which will include a monthly Caffè Lena Day at SPAC,” Sobol explained. “It’ll be the whole afternoon, from 12 to 5, and families will be able to come and hang and make music a real part of the afternoon in the park.” The three summer concerts are being curated by the café’s executive director, Sarah Craig.
“When we sat down and started talking about artists, every band Sarah mentioned to me I flipped over. Everything she mentioned I love,” Sobol said.
“I looked for artists that have a huge energy and a rich intensity that can hold up well in an outdoor environment,” said Craig, adding that the schedule of musicians, when solidified, could number as many as three performers on each of the three days. And while the teaming-up of the two Saratoga Springs powerhouses marks the first official collaboration between the venues, there is a long list of artists – from Bob Dylan to Melanie to Don McLean – who have performed at both, as well as a synergy historically fostered by Lena Spencer, who invited musicians appearing on the SPAC stage to come and perform after-hour concerts at her Phila Street café.
With six months under her belt as the new leader at SPAC, Sobol said one goal is creating new ventures while maintaining the venue’s time-honored traditions.
“I was being very conservative until I got the lay of the land. I haven’t touched the big resident companies because they’re so important to the DNA of SPAC, but we’ve been making some enhancements – like this Caffè Lena partnership, and within the next couple of weeks we’re going to be announcing all sorts of partnerships with some of our other cultural family members,” Sobol said. “There are so many organizations here, my feeling is the more we all work together the more we raise Saratoga up.“