Non-Profit Exceeds $8 Million Needed to Buy Cinema Property

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A rendering of what the rebuilt Sag Harbor Cinema — now the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center — would look like. Courtesy of NK Architects and Croxton Collaborative Architects.
A rendering of what the rebuilt Sag Harbor Cinema — now the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center — would look like. Courtesy of NK Architects and Croxton Collaborative Architects.

By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Partnership has officially raised more than the $8 million needed to close on the purchase of the former Sag Harbor Cinema, which was heavily damaged by fire on December 16, 2016. It is expected the non-profit will formally take ownership of the property in January.

The partnership announced it had met its first fundraising goal on December 13 when it was revealed it had received a $1.4 million state grant, bolstering the roughly $6.5 million already raised through private contributions and fundraisers. An additional $500,000 donation was made later the same afternoon by an anonymous individual, pushing the partnership beyond the $8 million it has agreed to pay the longtime owner Gerald Mallow for the property.

The partnership, led by a board that includes Nick Gazzolo, April Gornik, Hilary Loomis, Susan Mead and Jayne Young, among others, kicked off fundraising for the purchase in April with a $1 million donation by artist Eric Fiscl, Ms. Gornik’s husband. It will now begin the process of raising $5 million in funding to construct the theater, which will be transformed into the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, a non-profit dedicated to film and education.

Current plans call for the division of the existing 480-seat auditorium into two separate screening rooms, one with 250 seats, the other with 150 seats. The ground-floor portion of the building that was once home to the RJD Gallery will be transformed into a café. Above that, there would be a 30-seat screening room that would double as a classroom and be available for private events. Shortly after confirming the grant award, state Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said he believed it would mark the beginning of a public-private partnership to aid the arts center, hinting additional state funding to help with construction might be available.

“We are ecstatic that our efforts over the last year have helped us meet our funding goal to save the cinema. This was truly the work of an incredible community of people with a common goal,” said Ms. Gornik.

The partnership also announced that Leonardo DiCaprio, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick and Darren Star had joined a list of luminaries who have come out in support of the purchase, and the creation of the non-profit Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center. Early this week, it also revealed that it received a matching $10,000 grant, provided by “Tom of Shelter Island” had been met, and that the Durning family had announced a $50,000 matching grant it will support through December 31, 2017.

“Ironically, it turns out the Durnings have been here since 1938, the very year that the Sag Harbor Cinema in its present form was opened,” said Ms. Gornik in an email.

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