The New York State parks department has released the final version of its audit of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The audit was prompted last year when the arts center announced that it would end the New York City Ballet's annual residencies. The preliminary version of the audit, released in November, criticized that decision (which was eventually rescinded), along with the center's fundraising, the "excessive" compensation of longtime president Herbert Chesbrough, and various management practices.
The final version of the audit confirms the earlier findings and adds concerns about conflict of interest on the part of Chesbrough and board members. In addition, it calls for the immediate resignation of Chesbrough, who has stepped down as president but remains on SPAC's payroll, and an overhaul of board practices.
According to the audit, Chesbrough served on the board of a trust controlled by the Ayco Company, a vendor with which SPAC did business. Meanwhile, Ayco CEO John Breyo served on SPAC's board and on the committee that put together Chesbrough's compensation agreement; Breyo's company also hired a consultant to prepare a study in support of the compensation agreement.
Board member Abe Lackman also called for Chesbrough to resign yesterday, the Saratogian reports.
"I believe it's time for Herb to do the right thing and resign," he said. "The only way that SPAC is going to survive and prosper is to get Herb Chesbrough behind us."
Marcia White, the new president of SPAC, said in a statement that the center was already in the process of carrying out the audit's recommendations.
"The SPAC board has passed whistleblower and harassment policies," she said. "Currently, SPAC's by-laws, conflict-of-interest policy, and governance policies and procedures are being reviewed both internally and by outside counsel in our continuing effort to improve the organization's success and effectiveness and renew public confidence in SPAC."