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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Congress Park will serve as the staging grounds for this weekend’s Native American Festival. The significance of the location is not lost on Joseph Bruchac, whose family was involved in the founding of the festival at the Spa State Park a decade or so ago.
“Congress Park is where the original Indian encampment took place a century ago. And that was the original idea years ago, before the state park approached us,” said Bruchac, whose Native American heritage comes from his mother’s side of the family, the Nulhegan Band of the Abenaki Nation. “And the thing about Congress Park is it’s an incredible venue. I think it’s one of the most beautiful parks in the country and designed by (Frederick Law) Olmsted – who designed Central Park. “
Historic maps presented in the 1970s to the city’s Community Development offices place the “Indian Encampment,” in an area adjacent to the so-called “Devil’s Chair” in the northeast section of the park close to Circular Street and Spring streets. The encampments were sited in Congress Park up until just before the start of the 20th century, when they were relocated to an area close to Ballston Avenue. In July 1883, the Saratoga Journal reported on a festival in the “picturesque Indian village,” which “delighted children” and “many well-known citizens and guests” alike, and was highlighted by an Indian medicine ceremony and “fancy rifle shooting by Texas Charley.”
Richard Canfield purchased the encampment grounds in May 1902, according to newspaper accounts of the time. Two decades earlier, Canfield purchased the Saratoga Clubhouse and spent a considerable amount of money during the late 1800s enhancing the building and the surrounding Congress Park grounds. That building – today known as The Canfield Casino houses the Saratoga Springs History Museum and will be used as a staging area for some of Sunday’s events during the Native American Festival.
Sunday’s festival is an important one, Bruchac says. “One of the traditions in our native culture is that we tell stories, and we do this for two reasons: one is to entertain; the other to educate. Sharing culture is one of the best ways to teach people things that they may not have ever thought of before,” he says. “So, our festival will, first of all, let people see contemporary Native Americans. We’re not all existing in the teepees on the Great Plains of a hundred years ago but are part of the continuing community of peoples here in the northeast. And secondly, what they’ll get to see is more than 34 different artists offering their works – from baskets and jewelry, to woodcarvings and stone carvings. Pretty amazing stuff. They’ll get to see the continuing strength of our artistry that is so much a part of Native American culture.”
Three years ago, the festival relocated to the National Museum of Dance. In search of an appropriate venue this year, a conversation with Saratoga Arts Executive Director Joel Reed led to Sunday’s festival staging at Congress Park and at the Canfield Casino. The first Saratoga Native American Festival was a two-day event.
“That first day we had 5,000 people, but the second day we got totally rained out. That happened to us the second year as well, where we had one good day and one really bad rain day,” Bruchac says. “So now, we thought we’d pick the one good weather day, rather than going with one day that’s good and one day that’s bad,” he joked, looking over the predicted sun-filled forecast for the Sunday.
The Saratoga Native American Festival takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22 in Congress Park. The event is free and open to the public. 10 a.m.: Vendors Open. Flute and Drum Music by James, Jesse and Joseph Bruchac. 11 a.m.: Tom Porter‘s Opening Address. The festival will begin with a traditional opening address, delivered in Mohawk and English by Tom Sakokwenionkwas Porter, who positions with the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs and is the spokesman and spiritual leader of the Mohawk community of Kanatsiohareke. Noon: Grand Entry. Black River Drum, Old Soul Drum, Nulhegan Drum. 12:45 p.m.: Honoring of Chief Don Stevens. 1 p.m.: Haudenosaunee Singers and Dancers. 1:45 p.m. and 3 p.m.: Smoke Dance Competition. 2 p.m.: Brian Blanchett on Canfield Stage. 2:10 p.m.: Joanne Shenandoah on Canfield Stage. Shenandoah, a Grammy Award winner, is one of Native America’s most celebrated musicians. 3 p.m.: Perry Ground storytelling on Canfield Stage. Perry Ground is a Turtle Clan member of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. He has been telling stories for over 20 years as a means of educating people about the culture, beliefs and history of the Haudenosaunee. Perry learned most of the stories he shares from the elders of various Native American communities and feels practicing and perpetuating the oral traditions of Native people is an important responsibility. 4:15 p.m.: Kay Olan Storytelling on Canfield Stage. Kay Clan is a Wolf Clan Mohawk storyteller and educator. After teaching for 33 years, she relocated to the Traditional Mohawk Community at Kanatsiohareke where she worked as director. 5 p.m.: Vendors close. Closing Address by Tom Porter
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Patrick Kauth stood atop the lawn at High Rock Park Wednesday morning, trying to encapsulate the thoughts and emotions of the past 18 years into a few poignant words.
“It’s a changed world,” said Kauth, whose childhood years were spent in the classrooms of St. Clement’s and Saratoga Springs High. He grew up in a hockey family, one of four siblings. His dad, Don Kauth, was killed in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center.
“A loss is a loss and you can’t change time,” said Kauth, who teaches history at the Albany Academy.
It was early in September 2001, when Don Kauth drove his son to Merrimack College in Massachusetts, where Patrick was entering his freshman year.
“He bought me own of those huge Dell desktop computers,” he remembered. “Afterwards we ate dinner and exchanged pleasantries and insults, the way that best friends do, because he was my best friend,” he said. “Then he was off to New York the next morning.” Don Kauth worked as a bank analyst for Keefe, Bruyette & Wood at the World Trade Center.
It was a week or so later when Patrick Kauth joined his new college roommates watching the events of 9/11 take form on the TV.
“I remember thinking that this couldn’t be real. At first, I joined along with them, just sat there, and then after about sixty seconds it clicked: wait a minute. He works there. So, I phoned home. And I heard it in my mom’s voice. She hadn’t heard from him. The communication was very difficult that day, but still, he would have found a way. So, I knew pretty immediately that he was gone. “
Kauth was the keynote speaker at the city’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Wednesday morning at High Rock Park. It is a historic park that has been known to Native Americans for over 5,000 years. In the summer of 2012, it became home to the 25-foot-tall sculpture, titled "Tempered by Memory," which was created out of five twisted pieces of World Trade Center steel. Four of the pieces came from the North Tower - distinguished by the antenna on its roof - and one steel beam came from the South Tower.
The ceremony, held on the 18th anniversary of the attacks, began with a welcome from Raymond F. O’Conor, author and CEO of Saratoga National Bank, and the observance included members of the city police and fire departments and the U.S. Navy. Keri Alonzo sang The National Anthem, Rick and Sharon Bolton provided additional music. Chaplain Sid Gordon, Disabled American Veterans, delivered the Invocation and Benediction.
“The attacks caused the deaths of 2,996 people and the injuries of more than 6,000 others,” said city Mayor Meg Kelly, who recited a series of the numbers that reflected the tragic losses of that day at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, on each of the four planes, and the firefighters, paramedics, police officers and others who were killed responding to the attacks and trying to help others.
“Number of people who lost a spouse or partner in the attacks: 1,609; Estimated number of children who lost a parent: 3,051; Estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder as a result of 9/11: immeasurable,” Mayor Kelly said. “It is with these numbers that we will always mark this horrific day.”
Kauth says the collective stories of the tragic day’s events, as well as visits to The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York have become as fundamental to him as the battlefields of Saratoga, and Gettysburg, and the museums and the monuments in Washington.
“In particular, it is overwhelmingly emotional listening to our first responders The Day Of - from their own radio correspondence, describing in detail their quickly deteriorating situation and the victims who could not make it out of the stairwell,” Kauth said. “It becomes apparent, pretty quickly, that these heroes knew that they were not making out. That they were going to save as many people before the inevitable collapse.
“I cannot help but think, in awe and with tears streaming down my face, about the bravery and resolve displayed by these firefighters and policemen who wanted nothing else but to just have a chance at saving people like my father,” Kauth said.
“Time does help. I have a family of my own that we’re growing now, and that helps immensely. I love my son more and more each day,” he said, gesturing a few yards away across the park to his wife Shauna, and their 22-month-old son, Oliver.
Asked what he will teach his own son about his father, Kauth said it will be about his dad’s caring for others. “He was a unique guy. A really thoughtful guy who did a lot for the community and for anybody that needed something. So, what I’ll tell my son is that we have to continue to try and live his legacy,” Kauth said. “But you’re never going to have that hole filled up completely.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – When the United States Postal Service first issued its “Forever” stamp in 2007, it boasted a unique commodity. Here is a non-perishable product that would maintain its value in one ounce-weight, no matter how much costs may increase in the future.
Forever stamps are non-denominational first-class postage, which means that they can be used to mail First Class letters no matter what the postal rate. In other words, if you purchased the stamps in 2007, which cost 41 cents at the time, then they may continue to be used in the present day for a normal-sized letter weighing one ounce or less, even as postage rates have increased. Forever stamps have also gone up in price - to 42 cents in 2008, 46 cents in 2013, 49 cents in 2014.
This week, the USPS raised the price of new Forever stamps up to 55 cents, which went into effect Jan. 27.
Since their first issue in 2007, a variety of faces have graced forever stamps – from songwriter John Lennon to America’s first woman in space, Sally Ride; from the animated Great Dane Scooby-Doo to TV’s Mr. Rogers. There are stamps which have honored Americans who participated in WW I, and others recognizing First Responders.
Brand new, or soon-to-be-released Forever stamps include tributes to entertainer Gregory Hines, and to tennis champion Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly Brinker.
Additions to the 2019 Stamp Program – although not all will be marked as “Forever” stamps, will include: the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad; multiple works by artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015); a tribute to Marvin Gaye, and one commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. Another will celebrate murals created inside five different post offices during the era of the Great Depression that were designed to add a touch of beauty to post office walls and help boost the morale of Americans.
While not included in the Post Office Mural pane, locals will note the Saratoga Springs post office on Broadway displays two murals titled “Saratoga in Racing Season,” which were painted by Guy Pene du Bois under the Treasury Relief Art Project in 1937.
On another local note, artist Ellsworth Kelly – whose work will be featured on a 2019 stamp - has been exhibited at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, on the campus of Skidmore College. In 2015, the Tang received a $100,000 challenge grant from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation for the purpose of supporting the conservation and care of its 7,000-plus-work collection. Additionally, Ian Berry, the museum’s Dayton Director, worked as a studio assistant for Kelly in the 1990s.
As to how the illustrated face of a stamp is chosen, USPS spokeswoman Maureen Marion says a Postmaster General’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee meets quarterly and is involved in the decision-making process.
“They look at thousands of recommendations that come through,” she says. The CSAC was established in 1957. Their meetings are closed to the public.
One notable proposal floated during the lick-and-stick stamp days was a four-panel beer stein depiction which had a pretzel flavored taste to it when you licked the back of the stamp, Marion says. “But, that didn’t come to pass.”
The Richard Nixon stamp, issued in 1995 after the former president’s passing, was the first stamp on a major scale that moved away from the lick-and-stick variety and on to the adhesive option.
“Just imagine, there are people graduating college now who have never licked a stamp,” Marion says.
As for the Stamp selection process, the U.S. Postal Service welcomes suggestions for stamp subjects that celebrate the American experience. Any proposal that meets the established criteria will be considered. That criteria may be found at: https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/csac/criteria.htm. As of January 2018, no living persons will be honored on a stamp. Deceased individuals will be honored no earlier than three years after his or her death.
GREENFIELD – Photographs and figurines line the shelves of the room accented by a wide assortment of blazers and blouses, masks and uniforms, framed posters, furniture and one particularly wicked looking doll that sits beneath a wall hanging that reads: Chinga.
The collection of items, many of them iconic one-of-a-kind, are related specifically to “The X-Files” television series. It is Jim Thornton’s passion-project.
“The X-Files,” featuring Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully, and David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder, debuted in September 1993. Thornton has been a fan since the first episode was broadcast.
“I loved the show and thought: wow, I’d like to own something from it, but back in ’93, ’94, there wasn’t a lot of stuff out there,” Thornton says. A mid-90’s visit to a store called That’s Entertainment at Crossgates Mall brought him in contact with X-Files trading cards. Thus began his collecting. “That’s when I first thought: I own a piece of the show,” he says.
Thornton has collected items related to the show ever since. “I have commercial stuff, I have promotional stuff, I have things given out to crew members as gifts, screen-used props, wardrobe,” he says. “It’s hard to pick my favorite, but one of them would probably have to be from the (1998) episode ‘Chinga.’ It was (co-)written by Stephen King and there’s a doll in it that the lead actress throws in the microwave and it burns it all up. I have that doll.”
Thornton grew up a fan of the 1970’s show “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” watching the show with his brother. “That got my hooked on the horror genre and when the X-Files came out, that brought me right back to the Kolchak days, it sucked me right in,” says Thornton, who is a professional painter by day. His kids, he says, for the most part think the collection is “pretty cool.” His wife, Kelly Anthony, is an office administrator.
“I do most of the collecting. If my wife sees stuff, she lets me know. She supports me a lot,” Thornotn says.
“The whole point is to preserve this part of American television history as much as possible,” says Kelly Anthony. “It’s a part of our life. When we find a piece, it’s like: it’s found its forever home. It’s not going anywhere.”
Among the one-of-a-kind items are props used on the show, obtained through the couple’s networking skills. “We’ve acquired some pieces from one of the prop-masters who had worked on the show when it was still up in Vancouver.”
The first five years of the show’s run, which was filmed in Vancouver, are among the toughest pieces to find.
“The Vancouver years are the absolute hardest stuff to get. Some of the wardrobe from the first five years is on a dream list. It’s out there, somewhere. If anyone’s got any contacts, or any stuff: let us know.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS - U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, and Republican challenger Chele Farley will debate in Saratoga Springs two-and-a-half weeks in advance of the November midterm election.
The debate will be staged 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Arthur Zankel Music Center, on the campus of Skidmore College.
A limited number of tickets to the debate will be available to the general public. The tickets are free and limited to two per person.
To order tickets, go to this link: https://tickets.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=3ba01176502e75b37cb9d8f93193709f&vqitq=d8e3ccfc-4273-49f5-9c6d-cc729215902f&vqitp=b4a9f749-9d93-4e6c-a979-519b989f4327&vqitts=1539007963&vqitc=vendini&vqite=itl&vqitrt=Safetynet&vqith=73f39385b014dc549265f00462c78c5b
Who: Lawrence White
Where: The Grove, on Lake Avenue.
Q. Where are you originally from and when did you come to Saratoga?
A. I’m originally from California. I was living in New York City and first came up to Saratoga in 2002. I was very sick from the terrorist attacks and there was no business (in downtown New York). At that time, Jacques Burgering, who was the director at the National Museum of Dance had been my neighbor in Soho for about 10 years. He gave me an exhibition at the museum. At the same time, my doctor said “you’ve got to relocate,” so I was like: well, this is beautiful here. It reminded me so much of where I grew in Northern California.
Q. Artistically, what have you found in Saratoga?
A. The level of culture here is just so high and has been for so long, that you can hook into that line of heritage very easily. As a photographer, I’m always looking for the light and Saratoga is the ultimate light-catcher. Such beautiful qualities of light here, so it makes my job easy. I just go around and visually feast on how light falls here. Another one of the great things about this area is the history. It goes way back but comes right up through the Industrial Age, so you have these great buildings that were once flourishing and now have this incredible texture.
Q. What is your background as an artist?
A. I went to the San Francisco Art Institute and got a master’s degree in ’75. When I was there I worked with some great artists – everybody from Imogen Cunningham to Eugene Smith, Robert Frank and Kenneth Anger. As artists we got to work next to them. Robert Mapplethorpe. Can you imagine seeing them printing seeing that technique and realizing, basically they’re all a bunch of knuckleheads like the rest of us, but they were able to develop their own technique that worked for them. They understood the rules, but the rules were bent to their shape and not the other way around. That was the key of being an artist: to get within the rules, understand them, become a master, but then break the rules in ways that created art.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming exhibition “Saratoga Fantastique.”
A. It’s finding the incredible things that lurk beneath the surface. All these little nuances - things we may have seen before, but places where I lingered on and playfully manipulated the images. For me as an artist, I’m able to stretch my wings.
Q. Having come to Saratoga only during the past 15 years or so you have seen things with relatively fresh eyes.
A. I hope my photographs help people look at Saratoga in a different way than what they might normally see and that this interpretation allows them to absorb themselves even further into their own history. To see things differently - that’s really the key of life. It’s easy to get bored. We do the same mundane things every day, but as a photographer we see light and the way light falls on the same thing every day as always different. The further we dig into that maybe the further we learn about ourselves. And I think that’s the message here. And that’s why “Saratoga Fantastique,” because it is fantastic. It’s not mundane and we should be continually reminded of that.
As artists, we have different tools to express our voice, which comes from the ether, our muse. Our physical body is our instrument and we can have many different ways to express what this voice is. It’s a gift, but it’s temporary gift. My ability to see. My ability to move is very temporary and I can only use it for so long. That’s why I think it’s so important to respect it for what it is. Time. The sand is falling through the glass all the time and we have to be aware of that. It’s precious. Don’t just squander it.
Lawrence White’s “Saratoga Fantastique” will be on exhibit at The Grove, on Lake Avenue. An opening reception takes place 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Show hours will be 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, by appointment.
THE RAIN FALLS in Los Angeles, on average, once every 10 days. And despite this being one of those days, Lindsey Stirling is undaunted.
The musician, composer, dancer, performer, author, and YouTube Superstar is in the City of Angels in preparation of a two-month-long trek across America which kicks off July 6 in Kansas City, Missouri and lands at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on July 28. Also appearing are co-headliners Evanescence. This will be no ordinary tour.
“We’re trying to create something that’s brand new, and the only time people will be able to experience it, is during the show,” Stirling says.
She plans on delivering everything her fans are accustomed to seeing her provide - dancing and singing and the playing of music, often simultaneously – as well as injecting some moments of spontaneity that involve Evanescence. “You have two very unique artists who have very different shows but are very similar as well. That’s why I think it’s a perfect pairing. At points during the show there will also be some collaboration. There’s going to be a lot of creativity and It’s going to be really cool.”
Stirling’s self-titled debut album was released in 2012 and followed by “Shatter Me” two years later. “Brace Enough,” her third album, was issued in 2016 – a year which also saw the publication of her memoir “The Only Pirate at the Party.” An album of Christmas songs was released late last year. Exhibiting a variety of talents, Stirling recently lent her likeness to a new comic book series called “Sparrow,” has competed on the TV shows “America's Got Talent” and "Dancing with the Stars," and counts more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube.
This summer’s journey has her sharing equal billing with her musical heroes. “It’s really big for me: getting to go on tour with them and every night sharing the stage. It might sound like a cop-out, but Amy Lee and Evanescence were huge heroes of mine growing up. I had a poster of them on my wall. I remember sitting in my parents’ car the first time I heard ‘My Immortal.’ I remember being so touched by her voice, and how they combined an edgy sound with this beautiful soaring melody. As a young teenager I really think that was a huge inspiration to me and kind of the reason I wanted to make my own music,” Stirling says.
“When I started writing my own music, I took a page out of their book. I was doing dubstep and I thought: OK, how can I make this really edgy electronic music meld with my classical background? And so, a huge inspiration to me was Evanescence,” says the classically trained violinist, who grew up in Arizona.
“I had played classical my whole life – I played since I was six – and everything I played pretty much was on a white piece of paper with black notes. I was taught how to play it and how to articulate it. It was the same music that had been played for hundreds of years on an instrument that was hundreds of years old, and I was playing it the way it had been played for hundreds of years. I just got burned out,” Stirling explains. “I thrive on creativity and so I think I had just gotten bored. So that’s why I strayed from classical. I thought to myself: I’m not going to quit, I just need to re-find my passion, play the kind of music that excites me, the kind of music that I love. That’s why I started playing in rock bands and adding classical elements - not taking away from classical, but just adding my own vision to dubstep and pop and rock. It made it come alive for me. “
Making a leap from the classical world was not without judgmental repercussions.
“There are haters out there, for sure, and they’re very loud sometimes, but there are way more people that are appreciative, loving and kind to me and my art,” she says. “With the negative comments, I have to remind myself why I’m doing this. I like to tell stories, I like to make videos, I like to perform. I’m not going to be the best classical violinist in the world. I’m a violinist who gets to do what they love, share it with a lot of people and make them smile. I’m much happier doing that. “
Stirling’s memoir, which was published in 2016, has been largely hailed as an inspirational journey demonstrating her persistence, her humor, and as an inspirational tale, openly taking about her own struggles with anorexia - a life-threatening disorder due to the effects of weight loss and starvation on the body and brain.
“It wasn’t an easy struggle,” Stirling says. “I’ve been in recovery now for several years and it’s something that I know – the same way that anyone who has had an addiction knows – there’s always that tinge in the back of your mind. Most of the time I’m unaware of it. Occasionally it will come forward and remind me it’s there and would like to come forward again, and I’m like: ‘No. You’re not allowed to be a part of my life.’ I have the tools necessary now and I know how to use them to say: No. Just go away. I’m very happy where I’ve gotten to now, and I’m doing really well in that area.”
She says she shares her story with people to help provide a message that as difficult as things may appear in the moment of struggle, recovery is possible.
Not surprisingly, Stirling says getting involved in the field of motivational speaking and creating “a brand of positivity” is one of her future goals.
“I will write a Broadway musical at some point. And I’m also going to have a Vegas show,” Stirling says. “As for right now, I’m really trying to get into motivational speaking. I feel like that’s my next calling in life. I want to go out and share my message in a very upfront way and through that I want to raise dollars for charity. Those are my big 10-year plans.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS - More details are available regarding a special David Cassidy Tribute Concert to take place in Saratoga Springs Aug. 14.
The concert was first reported here, in the aftermath of a fan celebration which brought Cassidy fans to the city from across the globe last month. Organizers of that inaugural event say they plan to make May 20 an annual David Cassidy celebration day in Saratoga Springs. The 1970’s teen heartthrob - best known as Keith Partridge in the television sit-com “The Partridge Family,” passed away last November at the age of 67.
Cassidy, who owned a home in Saratoga Springs, had a passion for Thoroughbred racing, and was ardent in his support of TRF and its mission of saving former racehorses from abuse and neglect.
The David Cassidy Tribute Concert will take place 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14 at the Horseshoe Inn, located at 9 Gridley Ave., Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and will benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
Members of Cassidy's band - Terri Cote (drums), Craig Snider (keyboards/vocals); Dave Robicheau (guitar/vocals); Matt Sullivan (guitar/vocals); Vance Brescia (guitar/vocals) and Darrell Craig Harris (bass/vocals), are anticipated to perform at the event.
Tickets are $50 and available by calling TRF at 518-226-0028 or online at https://www.trfinc.org/event/david-cassidy-band-special-guests/.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Bids received from the city’s request for proposals from potential parking management partners will be unsealed and publicly read 2 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
The city issued an RFP seeking the services of a professional parking consultant/management team to study, design and implement a Smart parking system in downtown Saratoga Springs. The stated goal, according to the proposal, is “to net the maximum financial benefit to the city balanced with downtown business vitality and efficient traffic management.”
Subsequent to selecting a winning bidder, the city is anticipated to host an organizational kick-off meeting on May 8.
The city currently owns and manages eight lots with approximately 1,288 “off-street” parking spaces, according to the Parking Task Force parking space inventory. There are an additional 1,302 public “on-street” parking spaces.
City owned and managed:
Public on-street parking: 1,302. Public off-street parking: 1,288 as follows:
- Woodlawn 3-level deck parking - 384
- Putnam St 2-level deck parking - 185
- Walton (Church St.) 2-level deck parking- 222
- High Rock upper & lower surface & Lake Ave. lot parking: 278
- Spring St surface lot parking - 98
- Henry St surface lot parking - 19
- Woodlawn surface lot parking – 60
- Collamer surface lot – 30
Additionally, non-city-owned and managed spots include: 83 spaces at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, and 2,552 spaces defined as “private off-street parking.”
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. “