Lighting The Sag Harbor Cinema

The exterior of the Sag Harbor Cinema,

Sag Harbor will once again see its name in lights. The Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center will host a relighting of the iconic Sag Harbor sign at the Sag Harbor Cinema on Saturday, May 25, at 8 PM.

“Initially we were thinking we could wait until the Cinema opened to light the sign, but Memorial Day weekend felt like the perfect opportunity to celebrate not only the start of summer, but how far we have come on this journey,” said Cinema Chair and artist April Gornik.

After a devastating fire that destroyed the cinema in December 2016, supporters banded together to bring it back to its former glory. A major fundraising effort by the Sag Harbor Partnership lead to its purchase of the cinema in 2017. The Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center was founded the same year to rebuild and operate the location. The cinema is slated to re-open this fall.

Heavy hitters like Martin Scorsese and Billy Joel pledged early donations. The Cinema’s popcorn stand will be named after Joel in honor of his donation.

“On the evening it was destroyed, the Cinema was showing two European films, neither of which were considered blockbuster hits, but that wasn’t the point. This theatre is about art, and the ability for film to inspire people to persevere in the face of adversity,” said Scorsese.

On Saturday evening, county, town, and village officials will be on hand for a ceremony at the Cinema to reignite the neon Art Deco sign. As part of the celebration, the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce will encourage Main Street businesses to stay open late for the sign-lighting ceremony.

“Part of saving the Sag Harbor Cinema has always been to help keep Main Street intact, so we’re looking forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with Main Street merchants,” said Cinema Board Treasurer Susan Mead.

“It would be wrong to withhold the sign from all the people in this community who have been so generous in getting us this far. We hope this re-inspires visitors and residents to help open the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center this fall, free and clear of debt, fulfilling our promise to the community to bring the Cinema back,” continued Gornik.

Since 1915, four movie theaters have operated in the space: the George’s Theatre, The Elite, Glynne’s Sag Harbor Theatre, and the Sag Harbor Theatre. The arts center, once operational, will continue to show independent, foreign, and documentary films, while preserving Sag Harbor’s historic Main Street.

The new cinema aims to keep its Art Deco architectural charm while adding state-of-the-art equipment. It is estimated that an additional $3 to 4 million is needed before the Cinema can be fully functional. The final round of fundraising will provide seating, film and sound equipment, restoration of historic fixtures, café and concession equipment, an expansion of the new third floor, and salaries.

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