The Sag Harbor Cinema Is Saved! It Will Be a New Local Center for the Arts

Excellent news: the beloved Sag Harbor Cinema, which was devastated by fire in December, will be saved. The nonprofit Sag Harbor Partnership is in contract to purchase the building from owner Gerald Mallow. Planned is a new not-for-profit Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center (SHCAC), which would be committed to education, outreach, and programming for the East End year-round.

The landmark façade of the Cinema will replicate the original; the iconic “Sag Harbor” sign, which was saved from the fire, will be repaired and reinstated.

Photo by Michael Heller, courtesy Sag Harbor Partnership.

Also preserved will be the historic “curved scope” screen in in the main theater. The main theater will be partitioned into two screening rooms of 250 seats and 150 seats; there will also be a 30-seat screening room, doubling as a classroom, on the second floor.

The interior of the Sag Harbor Cinema on Main Street on Sunday, 2/7/16. Photo by Michael Heller, courtesy Sag Harbor Partnership.

The renovation plans have been drawn up by Allen Kopelson of NK Architects, who worked pro bono. Another addition will be a locally-owned and sourced cafe downstairs.

Film writer and curator Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan of the Venice Film Festival and producer Andrew Fierberg, a member of Film Forum’s finance committee, are planning the programming for the new arts center. It will build on the art house cinema tradition and include educational programs for local schools and the community, and will take advantage of the many artists and filmmakers in the area.

Local artist April Gornik, also the Vice President of Sag Harbor Partnership, says, “Most people don’t know that a group met back in 2009 to see about buying and preserving the Cinema when it was advertised then for sale. We were concerned that we’d lose it to some big business, and Main Street would be irrevocably changed. We reassembled again last July, with new input and members, when Gerry [Mallow] approached us about wanting to sell the Cinema to someone who’d preserve it. We were set to be in contract by the end of December when the fire threw everything into disarray, but we didn’t lose hope. We’ve been working with experts for eight months to ascertain how best to rebuild the Cinema, make it profitable, and serve the community, and we’re grateful that Gerry stuck with us.”

Nick Gazzolo, President of the Sag Harbor Partnership, says, “Main Street won’t feel whole until that famous sign is shining again.”

The Sag Harbor Partnership, a 501(c)3, is looking for donors to step up for community, culture and education on the East End. One anonymous person has come forward with the first $1 million. And of course, all contributions to the purchase and rebuilding of the Cinema will be tax-deductible.

For more information and to keep up with progress, click here.