Situated in the middle of Saratoga State Park is Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). It is a sizable arts complex that consists of a very large performance amphitheater and a small indoor theater. Besides hosting touring acts and serving as the graduation venue for several local high schools, including Ballston Spa and Shenendehowa, SPAC is most notable for serving as the summer home for the New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Originally conceived in the early 1960’s as a way to keep The New York Philharmonic in the state of New York during its summer residence, SPAC was fully funded for construction in 1963 by generous contributions by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the State of New York. By this time the New York Philharmonic had dropped their interests in the facility, but officials were able to gather interests from the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet. In June of 1964, after an extensive fundraising campaign, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller broke ground on the facility. By 1967, construction was completed on a 10-story amphitheater with 5,100 seats.
The outdoor main stage, originally designed in collaboration between Arnold H. Vollmer and Paul S. Veneklassen is considered one of the world’s best acoustically sound outdoor venues. Vollmer designed the beautiful marble floors while Veneklassen, with insight from renown Hungarian conductor and violinist Eugene Ormandy, designed a series a of baffles and sound-reflecting surfaces when combined with the marble floors creates an high quality sound environment.
Beyond serving as the permanent summer residence for the prestigious New York Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet, SPAC has been a performance stage and center for several famous non-classical acts, starting with Harry Belafonte in 1967 and The Doors in 1968. This tradition continues with SPAC welcoming bands like The Pretenders, John Mellencamp, Elton John, and The Grateful Dead who drew the largest crowd recorded ever at SPAC with 40,000 “Deadheads” in attendance.
SPAC’s main mission is to “cultivate, promote, foster, and develop among its members and community at large, appreciation, understanding, and love of the performing arts,” they achieve this by hosting renowned performing and musical artists from all genres, but also by housing and overseeing the National Museum of Dance. Located in the Washington Bathhouse, an historic building near SPAC, the museum has a growing and vast collection of photographs, videos, costumes, documents, biographies, and artifacts that document the history of dance. The museum also includes the Lewis A. Swyer Studios where live lectures and performances by students and classically trained dancers are available to the public.
The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is a cultural hub in the Saratoga Springs and Capital Region of New York. Their summer performance schedule brings talented and preeminent performers for residents to soak up high quality live music and dance. It is a venue and location that is not to be missed when visiting or living in the Malta area!