The creators of the new Saugerties Performing Arts Factory (SPAF), a 14,000-square foot arts and events space on Ulster Avenue, have big plans for 2012.
The group behind the plans is called Stella May Productions. President Stephen Tenner and vice-president Louis Spina nearly pulled the plug on the theater side of their business when they reached the end of their year-long lease at the Brush Factory in Kingston, but a fateful decision brought them into the large warehouse at 169 Ulster Avenue. The previous occupant was Weekend Liquidators.
Tenner and Spina expect to host a wide range of events, gallery shows and performances within its walls, thanks to a flexible layout.
“Everything is mobile,” Tenner said. “This thing opens up and it’s one gigantic room. There could be conferences, there could be weddings. There are going to be outdoor concerts. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
“We’re two very persistent individuals that believe in the arts, and I think that’s very important,” said Spina. “It’s an interesting story that we’re now in a garage. Some people start in their kitchen, their basement or in a garage. We started in a media center, about 2,500 square foot. We went over and had probably the largest gallery in Ulster County. We moved to Greenkill Avenue, and now we’re here. Some people go one way, and we went the other way.”
The Saugerties Times had its first look at SPAF in late November, as Tenner, Spina and a handful of others were working diligently to make a very spacious, somewhat complicated dream come true. Rods were in place in rafters high above the wood floor, and rows of chairs set off to one side for future use. Tenner talked about how the configuration could be changed to fit just about any event, or to allow for a theater performance behind one series of curtains while an art gallery could be in place behind another.
Before they got their own space, the company performed off-site. They performed “The Dutchman” in a rail car at The Trolley Museum in Kingston. Now they’ll be using their own space for performances. They’re also looking to attract film and television productions. According to Tenner, the operation was recently certified as a qualified soundstage by the state, making it an eligible location for productions that want to make use of a state rebate program.
A television pilot will be shot there in March. The show is called “Against the Grain.” Billed as an evening of tapas, wine, chocolate and storytelling, it will feature famed NYPD whistle-blower Frank Serpico and celebrity chef Noah Sheetz of the Chef’s Consortium preparing dishes and telling stories to a crowd of around 100 people. Chefs for the remainder of the series are still being sought.
“Frank Serpico is very animated and likes to break out into story,” said Tenner. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”