Saratogians fighting the self-isolation blues from their couch will be pleased to learn that there’s a new content creator in town. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) announced this morning, May 7, that it had launched a new virtual Learning Library that will offer free, original content, video lessons and arts education. This new dedicated online platform will also feature fresh entertainment and performances by regional artists, dancers, musicians, Broadway performers, composers and storytellers.
“Since the stay-at-home order, we wake up every morning and say, ‘What can we do for the community?'” Elizabeth Sobol, SPAC’s president and CEO, tells Saratoga Living. “What can we do to help people maintain hope—to share what SPAC is all about on a daily basis? And that’s really informing how we’re approaching our mission every day.”
The virtual Learning Library will become a part of SPAC’s reimagined approach to broadcasting its educational programming to students, families and educators. The Saratoga venue has already contracted 25 local performers and artists—including Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, Soul Steps and Caroga Arts Collective—to participate in the new series. “It’s not just great content for kids and adults alike,” says Sobol. “It’s allowed us to reallocate some of the funding from our education budget and pay artists to help us create that content.”
Some of the new Learning Library’s programming will feature “SPAC Breaks,” introductory lessons in creative exercises; “Stories that Move,” short stories with dance lessons by Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company; “Kitchen Floor Dance Class,” fun dance sessions led by former Broadway performer and SPAC’s Senior Director of Education Dennis Moench; and the “Virtual Dance Lab,” advanced choreography-teaching instruction in a variety of genres. The library also offers video lessons and “Printable SPAC-tivities” that teach children music and dance fundamentals.
In addition to this, SPAC announced earlier this week that it would be cancelling its 2020 Jazz Fest, a first in the festival’s 42-year history, and instead partnering with Caffè Lena—recently deemed “essential” by New York State—to offer Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Stay Home Sessions on the original weekend of Jazz Fest (June 27-28). Sobol says that the community should expect more original content and live-streamed concerts in the near future. “It’s a good example of SPAC providing these kinds of moments of beauty for people to connect with each other,” says Sobol. “We’ll remember this content in these days when we were so limited in the experiences we could have.”