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Peak Performance

STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY SPRUCE PEAK ARTS


Seth Soloway, the new Executive Director of Spruce Peak Arts, speaks on his vision for the future of the professional performing arts center at the base of Stowe Mountain.



In the heart of the Green Mountains, Spruce Peak Arts stands as a beacon of cultural elevation in every sense. Opened in December 2010 on the majestic slopes of Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort, this cutting-edge, 420-seat performance space has established itself as a vibrant artistic oasis. As the only full-time performing arts center built on the campus of an East Coast resort, it offers unique and unforgettable cultural experiences.


With exceptional acoustics, Spruce Peak Arts hosts riveting live concerts by renowned musicians, such as Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, who are set to perform in April 2024. Past performers have included Arlo Guthrie, Natalee Merchant, and Wynton Marsalis, among many others. In addition, Spruce Peak Arts has hosted mesmerizing dance performances from vaunted troupes, such as the Dance Theatre of Harlem, comedy shows, exclusive film premieres, and showcases of emerging talent from Vermont and parts beyond. Spruce Peak Arts furthers its mission at a local level through school visits, classes, workshops, and unique events, such as Ice Dance International Residencies and mobile music performances. 


Under the leadership of their recently-appointed Executive Director, Seth Soloway, Spruce Peak Arts is poised for a new era of artistic enrichment. As their board and staff look forward to a promising performance season, Soloway sat down with VERMONT Magazine for a candid and compelling interview. He shared his thoughts on the future of Vermont’s artistic scene and the importance of thoughtful, well-curated creative programming. Bringing extensive experience from his previous artistic leadership roles, Soloway aims to expand the reach and impact of Spruce Peak Arts.



According to Soloway, he was first drawn to Spruce Peak Arts by the intriguing potential of Vermont’s artistic community, as well as the strong collaborative ethos in the Green Mountain State. Since taking the reins as Executive Director in September 2023, Soloway has worked towards bolstering the thriving arts ecosystem in Vermont, which he believes is built on a firm foundation of creative cooperation. “Vermont’s artistic community is known for its inclusivity,” notes Soloway. “In terms of curating performances and events, I’m committed to offering a balanced mix of world-class touring artists and local talent as we move forward. I want to ensure that both residents and visitors get to experience the best of arts and culture.” The Spruce Peak Arts Gallery, which is located in the front lobby, serves as an embodiment of Vermont’s rich and evolving artistic heritage. With a focus on Vermont-based artists and collaborations with nearby galleries, it provides a platform for local creatives to present their art to new audiences.


In addition, new Spruce Peak Arts initiatives like “Homegrown in Vermont” spotlight emerging local musicians, providing them with a welcoming stage to grow their creative footprints. In an effort to support their cause, Spruce Peak Arts launched the campaign with an ambitious goal of raising $50,000. This campaign was more than just a fundraiser; it was a call-to-action for the community to invest in the future of Vermont’s artists, which will continue to evolve in years to come. 


By inviting local residents and visitors to help Vermont artists, Soloway and the Spruce Peak Arts board and staff were able to provide the artists with invaluable resources. Soloway elaborates: “We wanted to guarantee Vermont-based artists competitive artistic fees, offer them professional marketing materials, and create unique opportunities for them to engage with the local community.” Soloway is grateful for the donors that supported this program. “Every dollar raised played a crucial role in strengthening Vermont’s cultural fabric.”



“Homegrown In Vermont” also serves as a manifestation of Spruce Peak Arts’ commitment to artistic accessibility. “We’re going to offer low-priced tickets and live-streaming options whenever possible. Regardless of their location or financial situation, everyone should be able to experience the joy and inspiration of live performances.” Through this innovative, community-focused business model, donor contributions will help to subsidize ticket costs. “This will make performances at Spruce Peak Arts increasingly inclusive and accessible to local residents,” adds Soloway.



In order to facilitate this vision for the continued growth, accessibility, and prosperity of Spruce Peak Arts’ programming and community initiatives; Soloway is drawing on his extensive experience in the fields of artistic direction and marketing. Before coming to Spruce Peak Arts, Soloway served as Associate Dean for Presenting and External Relations at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music in Nashville, Tennessee. His tenure at Vanderbilt was marked by his ability to create and streamline systems, laying the groundwork for successful programming. 


Soloway also helmed several significant creative initiatives as Director of the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase College. Under his leadership, the organization was recognized as Westchester County’s top Cultural Organization in 2018. As a proud New Yorker, Soloway was able to channel his love for his hometown’s cultural community during the time he spent working as Artistic Director for Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts and as Director of Booking for Off Broadway Booking. Soloway is also grateful to have worked with his wife, Jen Soloway, to revitalize the old West Shore Train Station in Newburgh, New York, into the Railroad Playhouse. Soloway’s directorial work at the Railroad Playhouse, including plays such as Alex Goldberg’s “America’s Brightest Star,” highlighted his commitment to nurturing artistic endeavors at all levels. 



Soloway’s past roles have instilled a deep-seated reverence for collaborative ecosystems, where like-minded cultural institutions can work together in harmony. “We are continuing to develop positive relationships with other Vermont venues, including The Flynn in Burlington,” says Soloway. “We’re all in this together, and it’s amazing to see so many of Vermont’s other cultural institutions share in our commitment to building a stronger and more resilient artistic community.” Soloway seeks to curate a wide assortment of artistic performances for the upcoming season at Spruce Peak Arts. “There are a diverse array of musical interests in Vermont, ranging from bluegrass and jazz to family programming and theater. My goal is to create a performance calendar that resonates with both local residents and visitors.” Beyond the walls of Spruce Peak Arts, Soloway is excited to develop initiatives that further extend the reach of the arts into the community. “Whether that means hosting local artists in outdoor settings or bringing performances to other spaces, we’re looking forward to exploring all possibilities.” 


In line with that sentiment, Spruce Peak Arts’ community education program reaches students throughout Lamoille County. The program encompasses after-school activities, seasonal camps, and specialized programming for local schools, exemplifying Spruce Peak Arts’ commitment to fostering creative growth. Soloway emphasizes the need for the performance center to serve as a “community living room,” which transcends traditional performances. “We want to create a space for dialogue and cultural exchange, where diverse groups from surrounding communities can always feel welcome.” 


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