Fundraising for Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center Clears $3 Million

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Renderings of the new design for the Sag Harbor Cinema. Courtesy of NK Architects and Croxton Creative Architects.

By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Partnership has raised over $3 million for the purchase of the former Sag Harbor Cinema building on Main Street, pushing the non-profit over the halfway mark with just over 20 days to go before it reaches a self imposed July 1 deadline to collect about $6 million in pledges for the reimagined Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center.

On Friday, Sag Harbor Partnership President Nick Gazzolo said an anonymous $250,000 donation and an additional $100,000 has boosted the non-profits pledges for the Cinema project to close to $3.1 million. The self-imposed July 1 deadline preserves a $1 million pledge offered by an anonymous donor at the outset of fundraising just two months ago.

“We are half way there,” said Mr. Gazzolo Friday afternoon. “And the amazing thing is while there tends to be more attention given to the larger donations and well-known supporters, we are seeing donations across the board — from $25 — many including these very touching notes of support. People are getting on board and realizing this project is not going to happen by accident — we need people to step up and not expect it will take care of itself, and they are.”

The Sag Harbor Partnership reached a deal with Cinema property owner Gerald Mallow to purchase the property for $8 million earlier this spring. It anticipates needing another $5 million to complete renovations to the theatre, which is conceived as a community center revolving around cinema.

The Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center would include a restored art deco façade, including the famed “Sag Harbor” neon sign. With flexible programming spaces, and a café, the center would cater to long time patrons of the Cinema, which was known for its large single screen that featured independent, foreign and art house films. Featuring a 200 to 250 seat main theater, two additional screening spaces are also planned in an effort to provide multiple programming venues.

“I think it is great that with a month to go we hit this halfway mark,” said Mr. Gazzolo. “We have a long way to go, but it is great to feel this kind of momentum building behind this project.”

In other cinema news, the project is vying for funding through the state via the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which heard from over three dozen groups seeking state funds on Monday. Over $800 million in state grants and tax credits is expected to be awarded throughout the state through regional economic development councils, although that funding would not likely come through until well after July 1.

Tickets are on sale for the Sag Harbor Partnership’s benefit, Big Tent: Party for the Cinema, available at sagharborpartnership.org and sagharborcinema.org. Adult tickets are $50, children’s tickets are $15 for the event, which will take place on Long Wharf on Sunday, July 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. Last year’s event, which drew long-time Sag Harbor residents, visitors and celebrities alike, raised over $100,000 for Sag Harbor Village, earmarked for the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park, a public park space conceived for property next to the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.

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