By Christine Sampson
AIA Peconic, along with Electronic Environments, I-GRACE and Lutron, have partnered with Page at 63 Main to put together “Casino Night” to benefit the Sag Harbor Partnership’s efforts to purchase and restore the Sag Harbor Cinema. Gregory Thorpe, a Sag Harbor resident and the vice president of AIA Peconic, spoke to The Sag Harbor Express about the goals of AIA Peconic and his belief that the Sag Harbor Cinema is an incredibly important project.
Do you have fond memories of the Sag Harbor Cinema?
Yes. My fondest memory of the cinema was going there with my grandfather when I was about 10 years old. My grandparents were Amagansett residents. I remember on rainy days when the beaches in Amagansett weren’t so welcoming, we’d come over to Sag Harbor and wander around and go see a movie together.
How passionately do you personally feel about the cinema being rebuilt?
Just two days before the cinema burned, my wife Hayley and I had plans to see a movie there but didn’t get to do it. We were regulars there. On a personal level, it’s extremely important. I think the cinema project is one of the most important things going on the East End right now. People talk about how we can protect our community from gentrification from outside forces, and I think the cinema project is going to be a tremendous balancing point to continue to grow the cultural side of Sag Harbor but also to be a resource that local Sag Harbor people can continue to take advantage of year-round.
To what extent do you feel people and businesses should be giving back to their community following tragic events?
I think giving support, particularly in this area, is essential regardless of whether there have been disasters.
What are your observations as far as people, businesses and other local organizations rallying around the cinema cause?
From what I can tell it’s been a really robust effort. The benefit at Sen a while back, the benefit on the wharf before that, both had a huge turnout. We’re hoping for an equal level of support for Casino Night. It’s been really inspiring seeing local shops, local vendors and larger scale organizations like AIA Peconic finding a way to help keep this community and this cause moving ahead.
Tell me about AIA Peconic. What are your goals and mission all about?
The American Institute of Architects is a nationwide organization. Our primary goal is to advance the architectural profession to a broader cultural awareness of the value of architecture both locally and nationally. AIA Peconic is one of the smallest chapters, but given the demographic in the area we’re one of the more powerful chapters. We really have taken the mandate to advance the local cultural concerns of the area as well as the local natural landscape that are both so critical to architecture in the community.
Tell me about this event you have planned on October 27.
With Page’s support, and with support from I-GRACE, Electronic Environments and Lutron, we’re all sort of collaborating to put this together. AIA Peconic is starting an annual initiative to do a community support program in which we’ll choose a new cause to support each year. This year the cinema seemed the obvious choice. We reached out to the Sag Harbor Partnership, and now we’re all working together. It’s going to be a fun event for the community to come out, play a little blackjack and socialize for a good cause.
Casino Night is October 27 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Page at 63 Main. Guests will purchase “play money” to play games like blackjack, poker and roulette and win prizes such as cases of wine, a trip to Costa Rica and more. Tickets are either $75, including hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine, or $100, which includes those items plus $500 in play money. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sagharborcinema.org.