This summer I despaired at the number of empty seats at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (a 10 percent decrease in attendance from the previous year) for the dazzling performances of the New York City Ballet. Presenters of ballet and other classical arts face challenging times with declining audiences. But as Botstein at Bard demonstrates, challenges can be surmounted. SPAC should and can be a cultural powerhouse. It especially should pop during the three weeks of ballet in July.
The City Ballet is about excellence wrapped in the beauty of artfully choreographed movement and music. SPAC and our region should also be about excellence. For three weeks each year, we and visitors from around the world should fill the theater and lawn for each performance of the finest in ballet.
Here are three ways to make SPAC pop in July: better packaging, better understanding of how to attract an audience; and getting our economic developers to understand that it is all about excellence.
This article raises issues that are important to Saratoga and the NYCB -- but also to the future of ballet in America in general. Are there new or better ways for companies to create awareness of their work? How about ways to expand audiences?
What do the NYCB fans and SPAC regulars think about this article? And its recommendations?
Are there any lessons to be learned by other ballet companies -- and summer festivals -- which may be faced with unpredictable and even declining audiences for some of their programs?