Friday, May 26, 2006

Back in Black

After ditching a deadbeat sponge like Herb Chesborough, it’s not surprising that the Saratoga Performing Art Center finally realized it’s first profits in nearly 15 years. Media reports indicate that SPAC posted an astounding $111,948 of profit in 2005, after loosing an average of $575,000 over the previous four years.

What seems like such a remarkable turn around really isn’t remarkable at all. In fact, given the previous years of wanton excess that is so often characteristic of the state's public benefit corporations, it’s more incredible that SPAC wasn’t able to ink even more black digits into their proverbial ledger.

Let’s do the math. Chesborough is kicked to the curb –well, not really –and Bruno Press Secretary Marcia White is brought in to take up the cause. Not factoring the seldom-mentioned sweetheart deal cut for the former director, that’s an annual savings of $160,000. And that’s just one salary. Figure in the loss of Kathy Chesborough’s whopping salary of $70,000 for being the right wife at the right time and SPAC now has roughly $230,000 of extra cash to play with this year, even before taking into consideration Team Chesborough’s thorough corruption and utter ineptitude.

Then there’s the deal with beloved media monolith Clear Channel Entertainment, formerly SFX now know as Live Nation. To most casual onlookers, Clear Channel’s annual fleecing of SPAC appears to be nothing more that a deal to bring in big name acts. However, the decade-long deal –now in its sixth year –basically gives Clear Channel every ounce of gate receipts, save for what is ultimately a paltry $1 million flat rate fee garnered by SPAC.

True, Clear Channel has managed to bring in some headliners and appear to have a strong lineup for the 2006. It should also be noted that Clear Channel supplies their own goon squads to harass concertgoers and takes care of booking concessions. But when tickets to simply sit on SPAC’s lawn cost upwards of $30 for many acts –and not even considering that amphitheater seats to see the Boss are listed at $93 –the cool million they receive each year seems lacking for some reason.

Of course, Clear Channel waves a $3-per-person carrot before the SPAC board of directors for each warm body they coax into the concerts after breaking an attendance of 200,000 for the season. Six years after inking that deal, attendance has only breached that number once, officials said. So who’s getting the short end of that deal?

For SPAC officials, however, the outlook is rosy, now that Hurricane Chesborough has blown out to see. Using language such as “back on track” and “sea of change,” SPAC officials decided to give themselves a nice long pat on the back for a job well done; perhaps Siena College would be willing to give them an award.

But praise is far from deserved for this bunch, specifically because the so-called good job under White's stewardship should have been done to begin with, long before $2.3 million worth of public money was flushed down the john. And truth be known, the board of directors today isn’t much different than the one that promulgated the reign of Chesborough. This proffers the million-dollar question, pun quite intended: how long until the old leopard shows its spots again, because as anyone with half a brain will tell you, it sure ain’t gonna change 'em.


Anonymous Anonymous said... photo credit for the leopard picture? What kind of journalistic enterprise are you running here!


10:24 AM  

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