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An Orchard Grows in Saratoga Springs
Summer Residency Program Combines Innovation and Collaboration
By Arthur Gonick
SARATOGA SPRINGS –The Orchard Project, an incubator program for the performing arts, has announced that it will move its eighth annual summer residency program to Saratoga Springs. Theater companies and artists will come this summer to innovate, develop, and refine new shows.
In addition to a new location, for the first time there will be a series of public performances known as Orchard Project Presents. These will take place at Universal Preservation Hall and other venues around Saratoga Springs (see schedule below) that will enable attendees to experience world-class new works (they vary from dance to drama, cabaret to musicals) as they are being developed or as a recently finished project.
The 22 artists and ensembles that were selected for this year’s residency come from around the world and were competitively chosen from nearly 500 applicants. They are provided with free rehearsal space, room and board, and the support of fellow artists. Work developed at the Orchard Project has gone on to win awards including Obie’s, Drama Desks, Olivier Awards and the 2014 Tony Award for Best Play for All The Way, which was written at the Orchard Project in 2010 and 2011. Overall, an estimated 500,000+ people have seen Orchard Project-supported shows worldwide.
Full programming details and ticket purchases can be made at orchardproject.com. Here is the preliminary schedule of Orchard Project Presents shows:
CHURCH OF THE PASSIONATE CAT
June 5-7, 2015
Underbelly is an American theatre company that leads audiences on immersive journeys through forgotten spaces. An Underbelly show combines narrative, music, dance and fresh cookies (if you're lucky). Developed at the Orchard Project in 2014, Church of the Passionate Cat is a detective story turned on its ear, blending film noir “whoduniting” with a jazz age church revival like you’ve never experienced before.
A FOREIGN BODY
By Neena Beber
Directed by Theresa Rebeck
Featuring John Glover and Hettienne Park
Hours before he is to receive a lifetime achievement award, a world-famous film director receives a visit from the woman best known as his victim. A Foreign Body pairs playwright Neena Beber (Jump/Cut, Tomorrowland and HBO’s upcoming Ballers) with director Theresa Rebeck (Broadway’s Seminar and Mauritius, Creator of TV’s Smash) for an intimate and explosive theatrical event.
By Nichole Canuso Dance Company
June 19 - 21
Developed at the Orchard Project in 2013, The Garden is a dance theatre piece that is designed for four participants at a time. It takes the audience on an intimate yet expansive journey that blurs the line between viewer and participant. Nichole Canuso Dance Company creates movement-based works that explore the complexity of the human experience using subtle gesture, explosive movement, humor and interactive design.
June 19 - 21
Ur Star is an intimate interactive theatrical art experience for tiny audiences. Told through music and hand drawn visuals, you are invited into an artist’s apartment and taken on a journey that is at times whimsical and at times intensely personal. Developed at the Orchard Project in 2014, Ur Star is an experiment in the relationship between audience and artist and an exploration of what it means to grapple with darkness.
BRIDGET EVERETT - One Night Only Cabaret event!
Bridget Everett is a singing tour de force known for her funny yet gut-wrenching, outrageous and unpredictable performances – definitely not for the faint of heart! Bridget has played to sold-out houses on both coasts and has been joined by guests ranging from Broadway icon Patti Lupone to Rock icon Flea. Most recently, Bridget completed a run of US dates supporting Amy Schumer. She performed in the 24 Hour Musicals, which benefits the Orchard Project, in 2013.
THE ORCHARD PROJECT OPEN STUDIO
June 22-27 will be a weeklong exploration of work that that will turn all of Universal Preservation Hall into a laboratory and that will invite the public to actively participate. The 2015 Open Studio will include four cutting-edge shadow puppeteers who will be developing new shows. There will be open hours each weekday, as well as a family workshop on Saturday, June 27. The puppeteers participating include Andrew Benincasa, Lydia Fine, and others to be confirmed.
ALAN CUMMING IN CONCERT
The celebrated star of theatre, film, and television will perform in a one-night-only concert at Universal Preservation Hall. He will be performing with his musical director Lance Horne, who has been an Orchard Project resident in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Let’s Get Ready to Mingle!
SARATOGA SPRINGS – In its fifth year, this event has come up with a magic formula to kick off the summer season: ambiance, music, polo, food and drink, and, of course, fun! The 5th Annual Music & Mingling event to benefit the Adult & Senior Center of Saratoga is scheduled for Thursday, May 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Saratoga Polo Fields. Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Riggi are serving as Honorary Event Chairs.
This is one big party and all proceeds support the Senior Center’s programs. Guests will feast on gourmet foods prepared by Old Daley Catering, a Sushi and Sake tasting by Sushi Yoshi and ZipZang, and an open bar that will feature a full assortment of high-end spirits from The Great American Wine Company, Bulleit Bourbon, Casamigos Tequila and Saratoga Water with choice beers from Saratoga Eagle.
Other highlights of the evening include live dance music by “Grand Central Station,” James & Sons Tobacconists cigar tastings, “Fashion Inspirations” by Life Rocks Jewelry and Saratoga Trunk, an extensive interactive and silent auction featuring Tom Durkin, tarot cards with Mary Shimp and a photo booth with Heather Bohm-Tallman.
After food, drink, polo and mingling – top off the night with sweets compliments of The Candy Company of Saratoga Springs, Kilwin’s and Healthy Living Market. There will also be a special announcement to kick off the 60th Anniversary of the Senior Center.
This is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Adult & Senior Center of Saratoga. This non-residential community center serves over 1,200 members by providing a social environment with programs tailored to adults and seniors. The facility serves as a community hub where seniors can maintain an independent lifestyle by making new friends, sharing a meal, taking a healthy living class or learning a new skill. The social interaction provided by these programs is essential to the physical and mental health of the seniors in our community.
Admission is $100 (after May 22 price increases to $125) and includes all food, entertainment and an open bar. Reservations can be made at saratogaseniorcenter.org or by calling (518) 584-1621.
Seth and the Moody Melix earn 2015 Academics’ Choice Award
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga based family music group Seth and the Moody Melix’s debut CD – “Hi, Hello, How do you do?” has been honored with a 2015 Academics’ Choice Smart Media Award, a prestigious seal of educational quality, reserved for “…the best mind-building media and toys.”
Consumers and educational institutions worldwide recognize this independent Academics’ Choice Award program and its seal of excellence, as a mark of genuinely effective learning tools that stimulate the mind, and provide potential for the student to fully develop higher order thinking skills.
The group, consisting of Seth Warden (vocals, guitar), Doug Moody (violin, vocals) and percussionist Brian Melick has been performing up and down the east coast for the past four years in support of their music and picture books. They will be home in Saratoga Springs this summer for two free family shows: August 6 at 10 a.m. in Congress Park and August 23 at 2 p.m. at Caffe Lena.
For more information visit picklepieproductions.com.
Spring Auto Show: Cool Cars and Family Fun
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Automobile Museum’s (SAM) 12th Annual Spring Auto Show will have a motorized lineup that provides a worthy kickoff to the spring regional car show season. The action begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, where the lawn surrounding the reflecting pool adjacent to SAM on the grounds of Spa State Park will be packed with hundreds of dream cars. It’s always an eye-popping spectacle.
If you wish to participate and show off your pride and joy, there is still time. Pre-registration is $15; day of show is $20 and museum admission is included with registration. Visit saratogaautomuseum.org to register. All types of vehicles are welcome to participate, but this year the museum is featuring British marques (auto insider lingo for brands; in this case examples are Jaguar, MG and Rolls Royce), as well as racecars (two noteworthy clubs in attendance will be the Atlantic Coast Old Timers and the Sports Car Club of America’s Mohawk-Hudson region), pre-WWII vehicles of all types and motorcycles. Or, you can just go and appreciate.
There will be about a dozen trophy classifications at stake, and yet the atmosphere is usually more congenial than competitive, as vintage car owners tend to be as admiring of the work done on their neighbor’s prized possession as their own. Adding to that ambiance is the fact that SAM has gone to great lengths to make this anything but an insider’s event; it’s a family fun day with contests, games and activities in which everyone can participate. Kids even have their own judging category! There will be a Stewart’s ice cream dipping station and the museum will trot out its vintage popcorn machine for all to enjoy.
Of particular note that should have general appeal is a program that Donnie Gould, an automotive appraisal expert will present called “What’s Your Car Worth?” based on the Discovery Network TV show. You can learn the considerations that go into a pricing evaluation, whether it will pay to go through the cost of restoring your vintage vehicle, what you might expect to receive at an auction and other related topics.
And, of course, there is the museum itself. Worth a visit on it’s own, there will be plenty on display to round out your afternoon. In addition to their ongoing exhibits such as “Luxury Automobiles: Through the Ages,” which showcases extravagant vehicles from a 1903 Hansom Cab to a 2014 Ferrari; “East of Detroit,” spotlighting the New York State auto manufacturing industry, SAM has launched a major educational initiative with the installation of four simulators so that everyone in the family, whether they are old enough to drive or not, can learn about the dangers of distracted driving (see Saratoga TODAY Newspaper’s May 8 issue for more details about this initiative).
So the former bottling plant for mineral spring waters, which was repurposed and opened to the public in June of 2002, should be at its showroom shiniest on Saturday. A perfect time to visit (or re-visit) and get revved up!
For more information, visit saratogaautomuseum.org
Saratoga Springs Ends 2014 Fiscal Year Balanced and in The Black
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan reports that 2014 City general fund (operating budget) revenues and expenses have come in largely balanced. Unaudited year-end figures reveal small annual operating surplus in the amount of $91,082. “This is budgeting at its best. Departments did exactly what I recommended - ask for the funds needed and use the funds received. Budgeting is planning and this is clear evidence of a good and well-implemented plan,” states Madigan.
Actual 2014 revenue collected totaled $41,283,865. Actual 2014 expenditures totaled $41,192,783. “The City Departments did an excellent job managing their budgets and this will service the City and taxpayers well in the future,” the Commissioner stated.
For 2014, the City is required to have a unassigned, unappropriated fund balance between $4,175,952 and $6,263,928. Unaudited figures indicate that the City’s unassigned, unappropriated fund balance will be in excess of the maximum amount by about $1.54 million. City policy requires that any funds in excess of the maximum allowable amount be utilized, and the Commissioner of Finance is required to make recommendations to the City Council regarding the use of such funds, following an independent audit.
Madigan states that, as in years past, these funds will be returned to the taxpayers. “I have kept the property tax rate stable for three years with my recommendations to create, strengthen, and tap reserves; contribute to critical capital needs, such as infrastructure and equipment; plan for future retirement needs; and set aside funds to settle long expired labor contracts.”
The City has fortified its reserves over the last several years, a fact that has contributed to its high bond rating of AA+ and helped it obtain low interest rates on bonds for capital projects. These reserves and other designations will be key to future planning in the face of possible VLT revenue decline. “VLT revenue is currently 4.4% of the City’s operating budget. Losing any amount of this, especially as we retain the expenses of the host City, is a challenge that my administration has been preparing for. Using fund balance excess wisely has been part of those preparations.”
Both the Water and Sewer Funds also ended FY 2014 with annual operating surpluses. After carrying operating deficits for several years, these funds have been improving since 2009, and have made substantial inroads on the repayment of a debt to the general fund.
Distracted Driving: Auto Museum Brings the Public Behind the Wheel
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Automobile Museum (SAM) has invested in and installed a powerful tool for combating a major problem on our roads – distracted driving. This problem is particularly rampant among young motorists, but by no means exclusively. Four state-of-the-art distracted driving simulators, funded by donations and the Museum’s board of trustees, are now in operation at the Museum and available for the public to use with a paid admission.
In doing this, the museum has also expanded its mission from educating about automotive history, to a forceful and consistent advocate for safety behind the wheel. “We will be reaching out to schools, calling driver education classes and private driving instructors,” said SAM Educational Director Seth Warden.
At a conference at SAM on Tuesday, May 5, Anthony Ianniello, Chair of SAM’s Board of Trustees, called distracted driving “…nothing less than an epidemic,” leading to more accidents than impaired driving. “We intend to bring in young people here by the bus load to show them what can happen when you don’t pay full attention.” He introduced a panel that included Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo, Congressman Paul Tonko and Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen, each of whom spoke of the dangers of driving while distracted.
Congressman Tonko noted the fact that there were 3,100 deaths on our nation’s roads in 2013 that were attributed to distracted driving, and that injuries continue to rise: 424,000 people injured in the same year. The overwhelming majority of these were young drivers. Mayor Yepsen noted the need to reverse these trends, citing her concerns for her three young driving children, ages 19 to 27, and lauded the museum for “taking its educational message to another level.”
The four panelists then each got behind the wheel of the simulators, which resembled an arcade ride with a steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedals, and three video screens that represented front and side windows, as well as rear and side mirrors. The video presented each driver with a myriad of distractions, both in and outside their “vehicle.” Included in the list were cell phones, of course, but also animals, pedestrians, other vehicles, passengers talking to you, unfamiliar roads and much more. Violations are tracked and displayed on the screens in real time.
But the simulation program, called ‘One Simple Decision,’ did more than track traffic mishaps and accidents and keep score. The consequences are also detailed on the video depending on what you experienced. A crash might get you a visit from an EMT unit; a minor fender-bender’s economic outcomes are detailed – from the cost of repairs to insurance increases and points on your license. A vehicular homicide will have law enforcement drag you to court, listen to a victim’s family read an impact statement, and receive a sentence.
After each simulation, a user will complete a survey about their experiences and the data will be compiled to help SAM develop other programs to serve the community.
After his turn on the simulator, Sheriff Zurlo called it “a great educational tool.” He noted that the simulator was extremely easy to control and that young drivers would be able to operate it with ease. “There was always something happening, and it shows the importance of really paying attention to what you are doing.” He said.
Congressman Tonko had similar reactions. “It really showed how quickly things can happen, and how alert you constantly need to be.” He said.
For more information about the Saratoga Auto Museum’s activities and educational programs, visit saratogaautomuseum.org
Saddle Up for Dogs, Divas & Dudes!
Details Announced for Second Annual Glamor Western Gala
SARATOGA SPRINGS – When you pull off a great, fun event, the challenge for the second time around is to keep it fresh and exciting, while still remaining faithful to the concepts that made it successful in the first place. This has been accomplished, and then some, as the details for the Second Annual Dogs, Divas & Dudes Gala were discussed with Gala Chairwoman Michele Riggi, who knows a few things about throwing a great party.
“The thing that makes this event distinctive,” Ms. Riggi said, “is that we have a season of galas, so many events to choose from. But this is the one where you can be casual: Just pull on your jeans, throw on your boots, grab a cowboy (or cowgirl) hat and you are good to go! Not to mention, you can bring your dog to our party—we even have complimentary dog sitting for when you need to get up and participate in all the things we have planned.” She said.
The short course is that the Second Annual Dogs, Divas & Dudes Gala will occur on Thursday, June 11, at 6 p.m. Saratoga National Golf Club. Many of the elements that made this event so distinctive are back in place, but with several enhancements to assure that you’ll be thoroughly entertained. Tickets and sponsorships are available now – and the proceeds will once again go to Cornell University Veterinary Specialty’s Department of Oncology.
A $500 admission ticket gets you cocktails, dinner and a preferred seat for the featured entertainment that evening, plus a meet and greet with the featured artist. Other sponsorship packages, ranging from $1,000-$10,000, are available for those wanting to buy admissions for you and your posse (or company), with upgraded seating and other enhanced perks.
One incredibly noteworthy enhancement is this year’s celebrity headlining guest performer – Country music star, Warner Music Nashville singer/songwriter Chris Janson, who will be coming to Saratoga Springs in between gigs in Missouri and Colorado. Janson is sporting a major hit single “Buy Me A Boat” that reached #1 on the iTunes country charts. It was announced earlier this month that cable network CMT will actually be financing and producing the music video for this original song. This is significant because it will be the first time the network has undertaken this type of project.
Another feature of this year’s gala is that you can buy a “show only” ticket for $100, which includes a balcony seat, hors d’oeuvres and a meet and greet.
Speaking of CMT, appearing and returning as special Honorary Chairpersons for the gala are Doug and Beth Chapman – the stars of the hit TV series Dog & Beth: On The Hunt. Dr. Margaret McEntee from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine also returns as an honored guest.
There also will be a small but select live auction, with unique items available, including a dog home for your best friend custom-built by Bella Builders and a one-of-kind wall clock commissioned by Ms. Riggi herself.
But perhaps it’s the overall ambiance of the event that makes Dogs, Divas & Dudes so easy to recommend. The entire atmosphere of a transformed Saratoga National into a big rhinestone-studded county hoedown – from trick roping demonstrations to mechanical bull riding to barbeque to music and just plain fun (all with your dog, no less!) and benefitting a great cause…. Well, pardner, it all adds up to make the date of June 11 worth circling on your calendar, and reserving your place ASAP so you don’t get left out when something really unique comes to town again.
The Great Outdoors!
Farmers’ Market Moves To High Rock Park Saturday
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It’s a sure sign that warmer weather is upon us when the Saratoga Farmers Market opens its outdoor summer market at the pavilions in High Rock Park. This Saturday, May 2, marks the opening day of the outdoor season, and will kick off with a short opening ceremony and ribbon cutting by Saratoga Springs Mayor, Joanne Yepsen and Saratoga Farmers’ Market Board President Phyllis Underwood at 8:45a.m. This will be followed by a day of fun family activities including live music, face painting and balloon twisting, and, of course, a wide variety of fresh, local products.
The pavilions at High Rock Park provide a truly unique outdoor shopping experience, with an expansive selection that only a summer farmers’ market can offer. All of the products sold at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market (with the exception of coffee) are locally grown, raised and produced. Seventy percent of these offerings are agricultural. Because of this, many locals have been anticipating the opening of the outdoor summer market for weeks.
The popularity of the Saratoga Farmers’ Market has grown tremendously throughout its 38 years of operation in the Spa City. This year, the outdoor summer market will feature roughly 60 farms and vendors with a wide array of produce, meats, eggs, artisanal cheeses, honey, beer, wine, spirits, ready-to-eat gourmet specialties, plants and crafts all produced in greater Saratoga County and the surrounding region.
Several new vendors are joining the Saratoga Farmers Market this season, bringing an even more diverse selection to the summer market. These new vendors include: Argyle Brewing Company, Lake George Distilling Company, Old World Farm, Owl Wood Farm, Pleasant Knob Farm, Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery, Northern Star Vineyards, Blind Buck Farm and Naga Bakehouse.
Market Administrator Kara Scieszka always welcomes the outdoor market with enthusiasm. “We’re really excited for the outdoor season to begin!” she said. “We love returning to the pavilions at High Rock Park and to be outside in the fresh air! We are thrilled about the new vendors joining us this season and the quality and diversity their products will bring to our Market. We are also pleased to be collaborating with several local businesses and non-profits to offer workshops, and having a variety of children’s activities throughout the outdoor season.”
The ambiance at High Rock Pavilions is perfect for a Farmers’ Market. There is so much more room for everything: vendors, shoppers, music, children’s activities and of course socializing. More room means that it’s bigger, both with more products and more diversity of product. In addition to a great selection and shopping experience, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market at High Rock Park also offers a Market Café, which is a designated tent filled with a variety of prepared foods, picnic tables and performances by acoustic musicians—a perfect spot for families to sit, eat, relax and enjoy the nicer weather.
OTHER MARKET HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
Music – At every market, local musicians add ambiance and melodic flair, ranging from folk and bluegrass to harpists and drumming ensembles. This year the Market is offering two music venues: A Main Tent and an Acoustic Tent on the North Lawn.
Non-Profits and Businesses – Local non-profit organizations and businesses will periodically be at the market to display information and/or provide fun children’s activities throughout the season.
If you are interested in performing or having your organization at the market, contact the market coordinator. Visit saratogafarmersmarket.org/contact.
“Veggie Valet” – Friends of the Market, a dedicated group of market volunteers, provides a free “wagon valet” service every Saturday from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. to help market shoppers bring their bags and packages to their parked vehicles.
The Market Accepts Food Stamps and other Assistance Programs –
WIC Farmers’ Market vouchers are available through Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council at (518) 288-3232. For eligible senior citizens seeking fruit and vegetable Vouchers, contact the Saratoga County Office for the Aging at (518) 884-4100.
HOURS OF OPERATION:
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market and its affiliated outdoor markets in Malta and Clifton Park will have the following hours of operation until the end of October:
Saratoga Farmers’ Market:
Twice a week beginning May 2 – Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 1p.m. and Wednesdays from 3 - 6 p.m. at High Rock Park
Malta Farmers’ Market:
Tuesdays from 3 - 6 p.m. beginning June 2, in the Allerdice ACE Hardware parking lot at 2570 Route 9, just south of the Malta Community Center.
Clifton Park Farmers’ Market:
Thursdays from 2 - 5 p.m. beginning July 2, in the parking lot of St. George’s Church, 912 Route 146, near the intersection of Moe Road.
For more information, visit saratogafarmersmarket.org. The market also has pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The City’s Big Economic Engine
City Center Reports Banner Year
SARATOGA SPRINGS –The Saratoga Springs City Center hosted a record 157 events, among several other highlights, in its 30th anniversary year. The City Center’s 2014 annual report, delivered to the Saratoga Springs City Council this past Tuesday, April 21 by City Center President Mark Baker, detailed several other pieces of good news, including:
- -The 157 events represented a new record in building use days; the City Center was in use for 314.5 days in the last calendar year. This translates into overall occupancy of 86 percent. They hosted 68 conventions and conferences.
“This is a testament to the investment the community made in our recent expansion,” Baker noted. The facility grew by over 12,000 square feet to a total of 32,000 feet of meeting and event space. “With our new facilities we are now able to host larger events, and two or three groups at a time; sometimes each with a different caterer.” He said.
- -They welcomed 150, 931 guests to its facility in 2014. Of these, 19,947 were convention guests that would stay over one or more nights at area hotels. Each of these guests (and their associations) would spend an average of $910.16 locally during their stay, according to estimates provided by The Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau. This translated into a minimum of $18 million in sales.
- -Day guests, a total of 130,984, spent an average of $88.94 per person. These guests added over $11.6 million in sales. The total sales impact of $29,804,678.48 does not include sales at non-City Center hosted businesses (such as motor coach tours and sporting events).
- -The City Center generated $576,000 in rental income, as well as $447,000 in sales tax revenue to both the City of Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County.
- -In 2014, the City Center and the Saratoga Springs area demonstrated its enduring appeal, as 76 percent of the events it hosted were returning for the second time or more. The annual report listed 19 groups that had the City Center host their event for 20 or more years.
A key reason frequently cited for these groups’ ongoing loyalty has been the remarkable tenure of the City Center’s staff. Of their 13 full-time employees, eight have been with the City Center for 10 or more years, four of those for over 25! This employee consistency allows the staff to become and remain familiar with the unique nuances and needs of each event and group.
- -The City Center also hosted 37 events for the first time. Overall, 20 events were hosted as a public service to the community, including not-for-profit and civic organizations, as well as the City Center’s Family Day last September.
Perhaps the best news that Mark Baker delivered to the city council is that the 2014 numbers were by no means a high-water mark for the Saratoga Springs City Center. He noted that for the first quarter of 2015, data for both events and guests were trending ahead of 2014’s record figures.
“The days of a ‘slow’ or ‘shoulder’ season are a thing of the past in Saratoga Springs.” Baker said.
The complete 2014 annual report can be read online. Visit SaratogaCityCenter.com. Click on ‘governance’, then 2014 annual report.
Street Performance Ordinance Modified
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Under the latest revisions to the proposed “busker,” or street performer ordinance, performers will no longer need to pay a fee, nor obtain a license to perform on downtown sidewalks. The revised ordinance was reviewed at a public hearing before the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 21.
In introducing the latest version of the ordinance, Mayor Joanne Yepsen called it “…now much improved” and an outgrowth of meeting with downtown business owners, performers and residents to seek a balance of everyone’s interests. Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo noted that this version has eliminated every reference to licensing or fees; the regulations that remain are primarily concerning decibel levels, distances between performers and permitted hours of performance, which were lengthened by two hours (from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. to midnight).
In the central business district, performers would be required to locate no more than 10 feet from the curb. The intent behind this is to keep business storefront access open.
Many of the revisions came as an outgrowth of the substantial objections that were raised at an earlier public hearing by both street performers and citizens who had concerns regarding restricting artistic creativity and first amendment freedoms, as well as the hardships licensing and fees would place on street performers. Others advocated that the city was placing restrictions on what was actually an asset to the city – a component of its vitality and quality of life. In this connection, it was notable that a Facebook page (Saratoga Public Artists) was established, with a goal of “Representing performers and fine artists who work in the public spaces of Saratoga Springs, NY.”
Susan Rivers, a member of the Mayor’s Arts Commission, commented that she felt that while the ordinance might have to be tweaked somewhat, “there has been substantial progress. I agree with the mayor that this was a great example of how the democracy should work. The key was bringing all concerned parties into the process.” She said.
The public comment period was extended until the next council meeting on May 5.
The complete ordinance has been posted on the city’s website, visit saratoga-springs.org.