Log In   ·   Become A Member

Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Brings Big Talent To The Hamptons

Chelsea Katz

A view from the perspective of the performer. (Courtesy Photo)

Before the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center was able to boast an intimate auditorium with state-of-the-art equipment and prominent artists, the building itself housed a movie theater. Once a private cinema, it later became a United Artists movie cinema. When the building was set for demolition, community leaders Len Conway and Lon Sabella protested.

And then, the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center was born.

The small theater ensures an intimate performance. (Courtesy Photo)

From when the theater first opened its doors in the Hamptons as a performing arts center in 1998 to May of 2013, WHBPAC has seen world-renowned talent take its stages, a renovation to the the interior of the theater and paid off its loans. To celebrate their 15 years, the theater has an entire slew of special events planned.

"We really started out as this grassroots community effort to save this movie theater, said Jodi Giambrone, the manager of public relations and artist relations. "Over the year's we've brought this to a premiere destination with world class entertainment."

In the past, WHBPAC's 425-seat auditorium has featured Bill Cosby, the New York City Opera, Buddy Guy and various best guitar players from all over the world. (They are still waiting for Eric Clapton.) This year, WHBPAC has booked Bruce Hornsby, Kathy Griffin, Tracy Morgan, Garrison Keillor and more.

Giambrone attributed a large portion of WHBPAC's growth to the leadership of executive director Clare Bisceglia who works closely with major agencies in New York City and Manhattan. Once an artist performs at WHBPAC, other artists hear about how well the theater treats its performers.

"We've had some national treasures," Bisceglia said. "They play to thousands of people every night and we bring them to 425 seats."

In addition, to their talent history the WHBPAC refurbished their auditorium for their 15th anniversary.

According to Bisceglia, the farthest seat from the stage in the last row still has the quality of a center orchestra seat in Carnegie Hall.

"After 14 years and 600,000 people, it was time to get a new rug," Bisceglia said.

When the WHBPAC first opened in 1997, they took out a 1.6 million dollar loan to purchase the space from United Artists. In 2005, the theater officially paid off its mortgage, long before its due date.

Summer 2013 will fill the WHBPAC marquee with big names. (Photo: Reflex Photo)

While half of the theater's revenue comes from ticket sales, the rest comes entirely from donations. Bisceglia said that the only reason that the theater was able to pay off its loans to quickly was because of the Hamptons community.

"The community wants arts to be a part of their lives and a part of their culture," Bisceglia said.

To celebrate the past 15 years, the theater has prepared special events throughout the summer.

"We're getting our driver's license," Bisceglia joked.

WHBPAC put on a "Senior Follies" show, in which a group of senior citizens performed in a theatrical review. They plan to celebrate their volunteers by throwing a beach party. On July 6th, Liza Minnelli will be hosting the main reception celebrating WHPACs 15th year.

On Mondays through Thursdays, the theater will continue its "Finest in World Cinema" program. They plan on bringing in first releases, foreign and independent films. Andrew Botsford, a visiting professor and communication consultant at Stony Brook University at Southampton, will discuss movies again at weekly "Movie Nights with Andrew." The WHBPAC also has some surprise guests that they are not quite ready to reveal.

"We really have been in such a significant growth curve," Bisceglia said. "It's like the growth of a perpendicular line. People forget that we're only turning 15-years-old."

WHBPAC is located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. For more information call 631-288-1500 or visit http://whbpac.org.

Related Articles:

Be the first to comment on this article. (Just fill out the form below)

Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
What color is a firetruck?
(For spam prevention, thanks)
Gary R. DePersia, Corcoran Real Estate
With over $2 billion in transactions, Gary DePersia is consistently ranked among the top producers in the Hamptons. A year-on-year member of The Corcoran Group President’s Council, he has qualified as a national list maker since 2007. In the 2016 REAL Trends & The Wall Street Journal list of America’s top real estate professionals, he was designated #22 nationally and #5 in the Hamptons by volume with nearly $200 million of transactions for the past year.

East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!

Bridgehampton National Bank
For over 100 years Bridgehampton National Bank has been the East End's hometown bank. Many success stories...one bank, BNB!

Advertise on Hamptons.com - Have your business be seen by over 2 million viewers including NEW searches
Hamptons.com- Our exclusive online magazine has 2.6 million Page Views YTD for 2015. Contact us to join our elite group of clients that benefit from having a presence on the Hamptons award winning publication www.Hamptons.com

Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home
We pay less,and so do you.With over 1,000 stores in our buying group, we can get the lowest prices from the best flooring manufacturers — and pass the savings on to you.Visit our other locations: Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home, 675 North Sea Road,Southampton, NY 11968

Hampton Coffee Company is dedicated to making sure you have the best possible experience with our brand, whether you visit one of our cafés, our Mobile Unit, one of our wholesale partners, order through our website, or purchase our coffee on the supermark
We strongly believe that one of the most important parts of being a successful business in the community is truly becoming a part of it. Hampton Coffee Company is proud to support more than 100 different local charities, schools, and organizations each and every year. It is our pleasure to participate in events that are important to our staff and our customers.

RJD Gallery specializes in contemporary art with a focus on Magical, Figurative Realism, Narrative Portraiture and Urban Landscape.
We exhibit representational artists from around the world, who produce fine art of exceptional quality that challenge collectors to contemplate concepts about the artist, themselves, and our human experience. Utilizing timeless techniques in creating their drawings, paintings and sculptures, our artists have developed unique, signature styles that present a current vision of our world.