Sag Harbor's April Gornik revives one of the town's lost treasures.
The new cinema, shown here in a rendering, will introduce anime festivals for kids and pair events with Bay Street Theater.
“The cinema was a manifestation of a quirky, inimitable quality that differentiates Sag Harbor from other towns and villages out here,” says North Haven artist April Gornik, who has long been involved in efforts to preserve the beloved institution.
Residents of the East End were devastated when a fire destroyed the Sag Harbor Cinema on a blisteringly cold and windy day in December. The landmarked theater was more than just a cinema—it was, as famed director Martin Scorsese called it, “a beacon of culture on Long Island.”
“It was a disaster for everyone,” laments renowned landscape artist and North Haven resident April Gornik. “Everyone who loves Sag Harbor understands that the cinema was a manifestation of a quirky, inimitable quality that differentiates us from other towns and villages out here. The fact that it was an old theater that showed new, cutting-edge cinema was a great encapsulation of what Sag Harbor is like: the old and the new all happening at once.”
With the embers still burning, locals and heavy hitters immediately sprang into action. As early as 2009, there was a citizens’ committee to try to buy the property, and they quickly reassembled and formed the Sag Harbor Partnership, led by Nick Gazzolo; Gornik is VP.
With the support of Martin Scorsese, producer Harvey Weinstein, local celebrity-in-residence Billy Joel, actress Dame Julie Andrews, as well as myriad other talented professionals, the group has just entered into a contract to purchase the theater at 90 Main Street.
But Gazzolo remains cautiously optimistic. “We still have a long way to go, and we need to raise a lot of money. Everyone who is involved is working really hard. We all believe Sag Harbor is a better place with that building, with that sign, showing great films year round. There is a Sag Harbor spirit, and people who live here have pride in this village. We need to fight for it. It’s been a theater for a hundred years, and we want to continue that tradition and build on it.”
The new cinema promises to be just as exciting. Gornik has big plans for the structure, which will hopefully be completed in two years. “We will do programming all day long with people of all ages,” she says. “There will be anime festivals for kids, and we will pair events with Bay Street Theater. Weekends will make Sag Harbor an immensely attractive cultural place.”
One way to show support is to attend the Sag Harbor Partnership’s Party for the Cinema, a family event, which will take place in the Big Ten on Long Wharf in Sag Habor on July 16 from 5 to 8pm. There will be an art auction, vendors from local restaurants, face painting for kids, and live music.
Tickets to Party for the Cinema start at $50 per adult and $15 per child. Visit sagharborcinema.org for more information.