How SPAC is Using Social Media
to Rally the Art Community
By Lawrence White
Screenshot Visuals from Sparked by Beauty
As it is with most businesses and venues, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center is reacting to the devastating financial and logistical challenges from the Corona Virus. As of this writing, the Jazz Festival and classical season are canceled and considering that Governor Cuomo has placed the arts and entertainment at stage 4 for reopening the economy it does not look promising for the rest of SPAC season, although we all hope for the best.
SPAC President and CEO, Elizabeth Sobol, is clearly the right person for this challenge. She has raised the energy of SPAC since her arrival in 2016 and overseen a sort of renaissance of artforms including several programs that include the community. Last fall SPAC released a new mission statement that shifted the emphasis from performing arts alone to a more inclusive agenda. The statement reads;
"To cultivate the power of art and beauty to foster transformational experiences
essential to the flourishing of the human spirit."
With that in mind, SPAC is creating online components like a virtual learning library so that their education programs can continue, and a new Facebook site titled "Sparked by Beauty" to unify the community during these days of isolation. Considering that SPAC is one hundred-million-dollar economic engine for our area, their choices during this time are crucial for the health of the community overall.
The posts on the timeline span from lovely photographic landscapes to images of SPAC performances, to original art and poetry. It seems to change every few minutes so it pays to return often.
I recently had an opportunity to address Ms. Sobol with three questions about "Sparked by Beauty." These are her responses.
Q. We all have to find ways to deal with the new reality we are facing. How did you come up with the idea for a SPAC community FB page?
Well, I had written a newsletter to our membership to talk about how I am personally inspired and lifted up during these difficult times by my own encounters with beauty – and I also talked about how beauty – both man-made and natural – seem to bring out the best and the interconnected between us all. I had such a strong, passionate response from readers of the newsletter. It made me realize that there a lot of people out there seeking solace and connection in beauty. And it led me to create the FB group, Sparked By Beauty.
Photos by the Mayor of Saratoga Springs and the art of local children are welcome on the timeline
Q. Do you check the timeline throughout the day? How do you feel about the response?
I have been truly overwhelmed at how responsive and engaged people have been. We had over 1000 members after 36 hours and are now closing in on 2000. People are posting a lot of stunningly beautiful images – of nature, of art, of experiences – all of which touched their hearts. I do look at what comes in every day. And I try and respond or acknowledge everyone. But sometimes that takes me a few days to catch up.
Q. How important is it to maintain SPAC as the hub of the arts community during isolation? Do you have other online ideas you are working on?
It’s absolutely imperative for SPAC to be the center of gravity for these kinds of encounters with beauty. After all, if you get away from the limiting notion of SPAC as a venue where we present performances on a stage – and look at us as a curator of transformative experiences that help the human spirit flourish – then you will see that this is precisely our role in times like these.
And, yes, we are constantly working on new initiatives. We’ll be launching two more in the very near future.