Southampton Arts Center is gearing up for a big season, with a summer calendar that is filling up fast with a host of events, parties, concerts and series, all geared toward family and community.
“It’s going to be crazy-busy, and I can’t wait,” says Michele Thompson, the center’s new director. Thompson came on as the Southampton Arts Center’s first director in February, and she is working to make the center an integral part of Southampton’s community fabric. “I want the summer to come and see how everything works out.”
Southampton Arts Center launched its first season of free programming last summer, and found immediate success.
“We’re a new 501(c)(3), and we’ve sort of partnered with the village in envisioning this place,” Thompson says. “The idea is to create a warm cultural hub in the Village of Southampton, and throw open the grounds and the building to the people.” Located on the site of the former Parrish Art Museum on Jobs Lane, Southampton Arts Center is at the heart of the village, making it a natural hotspot for the community.
“We want to see people using the grounds, so we want to do everything we can do to create a lively, welcoming, open environment and put on interesting, smart, fun cultural programs that run the gamut from music to dances to talks to kids programs,” Thompson says.
With that goal in mind, the Southampton Arts Center has partnered with a number of local groups to create a fun and exciting lineup. “We are going to be doing a partnership with Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre again that’s going to encompass kids puppet shows and music concerts,” she says. Goat on a Boat is a nonprofit puppet company based in Sag Harbor that’s dedicated to introducing children and families to live theater.
Southampton Arts Center will also be hosting children’s summer camps this year. “We’ve partnered with Bay Street Theater to do two weeks of theater camp in early August,” Thompson says, “and then we’re partnering up with the Hamptons International Film Festival to do a week of film camp towards the end of August.”
Aside from puppet shows, concerts and camps, Southampton Arts Center will be holding a series of talks on Thursdays and an outdoor film series on Friday evenings. “And of course, we’re going to have a series of really interesting things in the gallery,” Thompson says.
Once exhibition confirmed is The Irrational Portrait Gallery, a project by Rick Wenner and Fresh Art Long Island in which artists paint over life-size photographic portraits of themselves. The show opens June 26 and runs through July 20.
The highlight of the season will surely be the center’s inaugural summer benefit. “We are going to have our first annual Summerfest in late August, which will be a fundraiser for the Southampton Arts Center,” Thompson says.
To reach out to the community even further, Southampton Arts Center will be making the grounds available to outside groups for their own benefits and parties. Southampton Septemberfest and Southampton Animal Shelter both held benefits there in May.
While Southampton Arts Center has made great strides in the last two years, they are nowhere near completion. “When we’re able to do some work on the building, which is going to be several years down the road, we’re going to physically open up the space,” Thompson says. “We’re going to open up some of the entrances that haven’t been used in a long time, and we’re going to do some things on the grounds to make them more welcoming and friendly.”
In the mean time, Southampton Arts Center is using its programs and shows, during the summer and all year long, to communicate that sense of openness to the
Southampton Arts Center is located at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton, 631-283-0967. For more information, or to view their seasonal calendar, visit southamptoncenter.org.