The Bay Street Theater announced on October 30 that it is creating its first purpose-built home. The new space will feature multiple theaters and areas for the development of new work, dedicated education facilities and outdoor performance and public spaces.
The theater’s new home will be constructed on a newly acquired site — currently home to the Water Street Shops — at the entrance to Sag Harbor and adjacent to John Steinbeck Waterfront Park, transforming what is currently a commercial space into a community resource.
Now entering its 30th year, since its founding by Bay Street Theater has served as a beloved educational and cultural catalyst for the East End, not only presenting new and well-known theatrical productions, but growing its arts education programs as well to serve thousands of students. The Theater is also the leading economic driver for the village, drawing visitors to the restaurants, stores, and hotels in its historic core.
To achieve this milestone project, a separate non-profit organization, Friends of Bay Street & Sag Harbor Redevelopment, has been created to oversee the site’s development, including land acquisition, financing, fundraising, and design. Friends of Bay Street will work in tandem with the theater and its board of in the creation of the multi-theater complex.
In building its own facility, Bay Street Theater is responding to the increasing demand for the cultural, educational, and economic resources it provides to people who live in and visit the region. Friends of Bay Street’s leadership is currently working with the owners of the businesses housed in the Water Street Shops to help them relocate to new sites in the area.
“The creation of a permanent home for Bay Street has long been a goal for all of us at the organization, and I’m thrilled that, along with the Friends of Bay Street, we are able to build upon the work of our visionary founders Sybil Christopher, Emma Walton Hamilton, and Stephen Hamilton, to make that dream a reality,” said Tracy Mitchell, Executive Director of Bay Street Theater. “I’m incredibly grateful to Bay Street Theater’s Chairman, Steven Todrys, and the entire Board of Trustees for their support and leadership at this incredible juncture as we enhance the artistic contributions we make to the field and the home we provide to our wonderful community.”
“Sag Harbor has long been an artistically vibrant and diverse community, and a home to actors, playwrights, and artists who we look forward to welcoming to our new purpose-built space,” added Scott Schwartz, Bay Street’s Artistic Director. “The past decade has been a time of momentous growth for the Theater, as we’ve welcomed award-winning performers, directors, and designers to our stage and mounted acclaimed productions of new works by writers including Alena Smith, Jonathan Tolins, Jules Feiffer and Andrew Lippa; and important modern plays and musicals… Our new home will greatly increase our ability to continue to present a world-class experience for our artists, audiences and students while providing a new community gathering place for generations to come.”
“Today is a foundational next step in the history and ongoing trajectory of Bay Street Theater as well as for the Sag Harbor community. The location of the new complex will offer residents and visitors access to the revitalized waterfront and even more space for productions and community offerings, expanding the Theater as a hub for engagement and creativity,” said Adam Potter, Founder and Chairman of Friends of Bay Street. “Not only is the project an investment in the future of both Sag Harbor and non-profit theater, it allows Bay Street Theater to expand its role as a major cultural, civic, and economic resource in the region.”
Friends of Bay Street plans to break ground in mid-2021 with completion of the complex currently anticipated for 2023. The architect for the new building will be announced in the coming months along with greater details about its facilities and special features. The center will include multiple theaters, including a mainstage theater that will retain the well-known intimacy of the original venue, while offering additional fixed and flexible spaces to accommodate different configurations keyed to artistic vision and production needs. The facility will feature dedicated space for the organization’s year-round educational programs for children and adults, a center for new work development, a shop and scenery storage, special events, and professional development initiatives. This flexibility will permit Bay Street Theater to engage in more original works, co-productions and partnerships.