AHA! A House for Arts

S7 E8 | CLIP

AHA! 708 | Universal Preservation Hall

Dinosaurs roam the Earth at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs. Take a trip to UPH with producer Matt Rogowicz to speak with Director Teddy Foster and learn more about this interactive exhibit.

AIRED: September 01, 2021 | 0:05:59

(machinery buzzing)

- I'm here in Saratoga Springs

to visit Universal Preservation Hall

and get a look at Dinosaurs in Motion.

(ominous jungle music)

(horror music) (metal clanging)

(ominous jungle music)

- Universal Preservation Hall is a brand new,

world-class performing arts and community events venue,

right in the heart of downtown Saratoga.

(gentle music) We completed a

$14 million restoration

on the building in February of 2020.

(gentle upbeat music)

We're really proud to still have this building standing

because in the year 2000, this building was condemned

and it was slated for demolition.

It was actually then called the Universal Baptist Church.

The congregation got put out and it was at that time,

a group of people from Saratoga

led by Jeff File and Tom Lewis,

joined forces with the church and raised the money

to stabilize and salvage the building.

UPH went through some really hard times,

but we managed to keep it going through the years.

I came on the board in 2006,

and in 2009 was made a Board President during the recession,

which was kind of a hard time to try to raise money,

but we kept it going.

And in 2012, we were about to close the doors

on the building, and in a last ditch effort,

I had heard about a man named Phillip Morris from proctors.

So I called him just to ask for some advice

to see if we could possibly...

he could tell me something to do

that would help us keep this building open.

And it was at that time,

he told me that they knew about our building.

They were thinking of branding themselves regionally,

and that they wanted to come up and look at it,

which they did.

And they fell in love with it, how can you not?

(machinery buzzing and drilling)

There is a lot of work done to this space

because now, as you can see behind me,

our main performance space is a theater in the round

that seats 700.

So structurally, we put a lot into this building,

but also we hung a beautiful grid

of all LED lights and moving lights and sound.

We have a 24-foot (upbeat music)

movie screen that comes down.

We have heat, we have air conditioning,

we have an elevator.

(upbeat music)

After putting years into this building,

blood, sweat, and tears into this building,

we were so excited to have our opening night

on February 29th, 2020.

We were standing, it was a packed house

and we opened with Roseanne Cash and her band,

and she was just fabulous.

We were able to do seven shows.

After that we had Chris Botti,

the wonderful jazz trumpeter who rocked this hall,

it was wonderful.

We had a comedian, Louie Anderson, we had a jazz evening,

we even had, on a Sunday afternoon,

we had an acrobatic circus on our stage,

which was wonderful.

And then just 10 days after opening our doors,

the world kinda came to an end and we had to shut down,

(upbeat music fading)

But it's okay, we're back.

And we have managed to keep the building

going throughout the pandemic.

(upbeat techno music)

Our original programming was never to do music in the summer

because there's enough music around here, right?

We wanted to do something that nobody else has done,

like bring unusual exhibits to Saratoga

and to really help the economy

and to help our downtown thrive.

So this year we decided to turn it up a notch

and we have Dinosaurs in Motion, where art and science meet.

And this is an amazing exhibit that is delighting everybody.

(upbeat jungle music)

- How do you go wrong with dinosaurs?

This one was a challenge for us

because obviously it's a bit of a square peg

in a round hole here.

When you saw a giant track...

two giant tractor trailers pull up to this place,

and we're trying to figure out how to fit things this size

through the front door, the loading doors,

there was challenges to it,

but it was an exciting challenge.

I think for me, some of the most fun we have

is overcoming how to make things like this work

in spaces like this.

- My favorite dinosaur is the American Crow

that's downstairs.

They're all made out of recycled metal and other parts.

The work that the sculptor put into this,

and the detail, and the accuracy, is pretty amazing.

And they move or you move them, they're very interactive.

So kids that come in, they get to learn biomechanics,

they learn kinetics, they're learning all these

kind of STEM-related topics,

which is really kind of wonderful in a hands-on way.

(inspirational music)

I think the future is very bright

for Universal Preservation Hall.

We will start programming our music again in November,

and I don't know exactly what's coming up,

but what I do know, and I'm very excited for,

as a matter of fact, I'm like laser focused on it,

is Saturday, November 20th,

is the actual 150th birthday of this building.

And it's going to be our second opening night

and a big birthday bash for the building

so we're really excited.

(upbeat music fading)


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