| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – Tina M. D’Agostino, president of Springfield Performing Arts Development Corporation (SPADC), admitted the decision by the SPADC board not to pursue a new contract with the city to run CityStage and Symphony Hall makes her sad.
D’Agostino, who has worked for SPADC, since 2001, explained to Reminder Publishing the organization’s contract would be completed on Dec. 31 with the last show under its management in December being a performance of “The Nutcracker” by the Albany Berkshire Ballet on Dec. 15.
Any shows in 2019 would have to be booked by the new management entity, she said.
She noted the city would be releasing a new Request for Proposals for the management of the two buildings and the SPADC board decided not to apply for the contract due to uncertainties about the new management agreement.
SPADC is a nonprofit management organization that was formed in 1998 to book and manage both Symphony Hall and CityStage after the closing of StageWest, which was located in the CityStage location.
Also making an impact on the board’s decision is the fact there are capital improvements necessary to the buildings. Symphony Hall is owned by the city, while CityStage is owned by the Springfield Parking Authority, she explained.
Both the city and the Parking Authority “have been very supportive over the last 20 years,” she said. “We are very grateful for everything they done for us.”
D’Agostino was also quick to say, “Our decision had nothing to do with MGM.” MGM is managing the MassMutual Center and is booking events such as stand-up comedian and actor Felipe Esparza on Sept. 29 and 4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince Sept. 18, both in Symphony Hall.
Booking acts and shows into both venues has been challenging over the years, she said. Many touring Broadway shows simply cannot fit on the stage of Symphony Hall, she said and engagements that used to be for a week have changed to one night.
“Due to the changing landscape of entertainment, the business model is not sustainable,” she said.
Besides D’Agostino, there are two other full time staff members and several part-time positions.
She sees opportunity in the downtown entertainment scene with both MGM and the Springfield Business Improvement District producing various events and believes other groups will emerge to add to the entertainment offerings.
In a written statement, she said, “Our board, our staff, donors and volunteers share a great deal of satisfaction knowing that together we accomplished our mission of reinvigorating CityStage and effectively unifying management of Symphony Hall. It has been a privilege to manage these two great performance venues. SPADC was formed with the intent to promote the arts and live entertainment in downtown Springfield.
“We are gratified to have played a role in bringing thousands, many for the first time, to enjoy the diverse offerings of high-quality entertainment at CityStage and Symphony Hall. The entertainment landscape in Springfield is evolving and we are proud of the contributions we have made in making downtown an entertainment destination again.”