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The Sag Harbor Partnership Seeking The Community’s Help To Ensure Sag Harbor Cinema Is Restored

Nicole Barylski

A schematic of rebuilt Cinema. (Photo courtesy of NK Architects and Croxton Creative Architects)

In early April, the East End community was ecstatic to learn that The Sag Harbor Partnership (SHP), a group of committed community residents, was in contract to purchase the iconic Sag Harbor Cinema that had been severely damaged by a devastating fire last December, and that an anonymous donor had already pledged $1 million in support of the restoration efforts.

Now, the Partnership is turning to the community to help ensure that their capital fundraising campaign to save the Sag Harbor Cinema is fulfilled. The SHP recently announced that they must raise $6 million by July 1, 2017 to secure the contract, and after that, The SHP must raise an additional $2 million by December 31, 2017 to take ownership.

The SHP has secured approximately $1.5 million since the Cinema was placed in escrow on April 6.

"We're looking for pledges of support before July 1, to make sure that our angel donor who's putting up a million dollars won't be jeopardized if it looks like we can't raise enough funds by the end of the year," noted April Gornik, SHP Board Member. "Except for $900,000 due on July 1 to go hard on the contract, no money will have to be paid till the end of the year, but we want to make sure we'll be able to go ahead by then."

Unfortunately, if The Partnership is even just $1 short of the $8 million needed by the end of the year, the agreement will be voided. To meet their goal, The Sag Harbor Partnership plans on hosting private and public events, and already have a few in the works, which will be announced shortly.

"When many of us first came to Sag Harbor, it was the Sag Harbor Cinema sign that caught our eye and told us this town was special. The first time I saw a movie there, I was struck by how right it felt. The aura was so strong," noted Susan Lacy, creator of PBS's American Masters, who will serve as Director of The SHP. "This was a place run by a movie lover for movie lovers and an indelible part of this wonderful town. That was 35 years ago and I never lost that feeling."

The SHP's mission is "to ensure that the community remains a place of culture and discovery," and the Cinema's restoration as a not-for-profit cultural resource plays a vital part of that plan.

"I know I speak for legions in saying any place which speaks so loudly to the character of a place must be preserved," added Lacy. "To be able to part of this is a privilege and to build on its beginnings to branch into the community in new ways with expanded and tailored programming is something I am very proud to be part of."

In addition to Lacy, many other notable names have signed on to lend their support and expertise. Emma Walton Hamilton and Steve Hamilton, founders of Bay Street Theater, have joined The SHP Executive Committee. The newly formed Advisory Board will include the legendary Dame Julie Andrews, as well as Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, renowned documentary filmmakers (The War Room, Monterey Pop, Don't Look Back), actor Harris Yulin, PR dynamo Shawn Sachs of Sunshine Sachs, and celebrity chef Katie Lee, who serves as co-host of Food Network's The Kitchen.

"People here have a passion for the arts but when it comes to donations, sometimes there's minimal response," explained Jesse Matsuoka of Sen Restaurant, the newest member of the SHP Advisory Board. "But once the people of Sag Harbor understand that this is not your normal fundraiser and is to create the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts program - that is exactly when people will know that they have to do something and that everyone needs to put money where their heart is, now!"

All contributions to the purchase and rebuilding of the Cinema are tax-deductible.

To donate or learn more, visit www.sagharborpartnership.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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