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Sag Harbor Partnership Reveals Anonymous Donor Who Contributed $1 Million To Sag Harbor Cinema

Nicole Barylski

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

When the Sag Harbor Partnership launched its ambitious $8 million capital campaign in support of the purchase and restoration of the Sag Harbor Cinema - which was severely damaged by a devastating fire last December, they received a major kick start thanks to a generous $1 million donation from an anonymous angel donor.

Now, the Partnership is revealing the remarkable supporter who made that incredible contribution. It's none other than internationally acclaimed painter and sculptor, Eric Fischl, who resides in North Haven.

"The arts have been a part of Sag Harbor since its earliest days, and unlike the other Hamptons, it has always been a maker of things valuable to an economy greater than its small borders. From building ships, weaving rope, making silverware and watchcases, building torpedoes for the war effort, and ultimately building components for our mission to the moon, Sag Harbor makes stuff - important stuff," explained Fischl. "The character of its inhabitants reflects this quality. They are resourceful and they are flexible. As one industry fades, they adapt to new ones."

Fischl, who was the first to back the project, felt the Cinema was an integral part of Sag Harbor, one that couldn't be lost. "When I saw that gaping hole in the middle of my village, I felt that the void was now inside me. I felt I had lost access to the magical portal that had been right there, right there in the middle of my town that could take me anywhere," Fischl noted. "The Cinema played such an integral role as part of the community, and I simply can't let it leave. We all want to get it back, and I won't give up without knowing we did everything we could to save something so precious to the nature of this town."

Eric Fischl donated $1 million in support of the Cinema restoration. (Photo: Patrick McMullan/PMC)

With less than a month away from its Saturday, July 1 deadline, over $3 million of the initial $6 million needed has been pledged.

"Eric's generous pledge has been absolutely critical to this campaign. His was the first, and is still the biggest donation. He's given us the time and space we needed to bring others on board," noted Sag Harbor Partnership President Nick Gazzolo. "Great cultural destinations, museums, theaters, and film centers don't happen by accident. They happen when leaders say we are a better community if we can create a space for culture. And it is particularly meaningful that an artist is leading the way. Eric has dedicated his life to making art and mentoring younger artists."

The Partnership's plans for the Sag Harbor Cinema include keeping at the renowned Art-Deco charm and remounting the iconic sign, which was saved from the fire and is being stored at Twin Forks Storage. "He knows our cinema and the films it will show can inspire, educate, and entertain our community, and the people visiting here, for generations," Gazzolo explained about Fischl. "Plus, I know he's a guy who loves movies! Eric's gift is helping towards making this amazing dream of ours a reality." The Cinema's architects, Allen Kopelson and Randy Croxton, along with Digital Media Systems advisors will also introduce some significant improvements, like incredible state-of-the-art equipment and a brand new sound system, multiple projection ratios, and the ability to screen digital, 35mm, and even 16mm with astonishing resolution.

"Eric's gift is extraordinary in its generosity and its vision for the future. The importance of saving the Cinema is paramount to the history of Sag Harbor and its Main Street, but it goes beyond that to establishing the roots of a new and important cultural center for the entire East End," shared Susan Lacy, Emmy winning filmmaker and producer, currently at HBO and creator of PBS' American Masters, who is heading the Advisory Board. "It will draw on the wealth of filmmaking talent in our midst and will be dedicated to the creation of programs for all ages to enhance our understanding and appreciation of film as an art form, which enriches and deepens our humanity."

A look inside the Cinema. (Photo courtesy of NK Architects and Croxton Creative Architects)

Other notable names that have signed on to support the purchase and rebuild of the Cinema include Billy Joel, Martin Scorsese, Andy Cohen and Harvey Weinstein, while the Advisory Board members include Anne Chaisson, Executive Director of the Hamptons International Film Festival, Wendy Keys, filmmaker and former Executive Producer/Programmer for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Andrea Grover, Executive Director of East Hampton's Guild Hall and Founding Director of the Aurora Picture Show in Houston, TX, Carol Ostrow, Producing Director of The Flea Theater in Manhattan, Jacqui Lofaro, Executive Director of the Hamptons Take-2 Documentary Film Festival, and Oscar winning actress, singer, author, and theatre director, Dame Julie Andrews.

The Sag Harbor Partnership will host its annual Big Tent: Party for the Cinema fundraiser on Sunday, July 16. All proceeds from ticket sales and art auction will support the Cinema rebuild.

Overall, the total cost needed for the Cinema purchase is $8 million. The Sag Harbor Partnership must collect 75 percent or $6 million in donations and pledges by Saturday, July 1. The rest of the funds must be collected by Sunday, December 31, 2017.

All money raised is tax-deductible. All pledges will be canceled and all donations refunded if we do not meet our campaign goal at the end of the year.

For more information, or to donate, visit www.sagharborcinema.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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