The State of the Arts on the East End in 2020

Arts in 2020
Clockwise from top left: Storefront Art Project, Joy Behar, Sag Harbor Cinema
Courtesy Photo

The arts are ubiquitous with the Hamptons, and despite new formats and more personal experiences, they remain a vital part of the fabric of the East End. Here are five ways the arts made waves in 2020.

The Arts Go Virtual
Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. When COVID-19 forced businesses to close, the arts were hit hard. How could they survive without being able to host galleries, performances and screenings? Luckily, the ingenuity of the arts community on the East End shined brightly. Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC), Guild Hall and Bay Street Theater all moved quickly to hosting virtual shows via YouTube and Zoom starring heavy hitters like Joy Behar and Melissa Errico. The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) and Hamptons Doc Fest screened films virtually, as well, maintaining their beloved traditions in a new format.

Fine Art and the Great Outdoors
While the weather allowed, galleries hosted socially distanced outdoor shows and sculpture gardens. Parrish Art Museum is making good use of their beautiful meadow, with its inaugural Field of Dreams on display now. Following a new Southampton Village law, Southampton Arts Center spearheaded the Storefront Art Project, beginning to fill vacant storefronts with stunning artwork such as Alice Hope’s “Priceless.” There are plenty of outdoor experiences, such as the Sagaponack Sculpture Field hosted by the Lou K. Meisel and more.

Bay Street Theater Gets a New Home
Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts, which has long called the Long Wharf its home, will be moving to a new location in 2023. The theater will build a new space on newly acquired property on Long Island Avenue, where the 7-Eleven and other stores are currently located. The deal was finalized in October and plans include a main stage, dedicated space for educational programs, a center for new work development, a scenery and prop shop, and even outdoor performance and public space. Groundbreaking is expected to begin in 2021.

Sag Harbor Cinema Readies Its Big Debut
Rising from the ashes, the Sag Harbor Cinema is nearly ready to open. With enthusiastic new Executive Director Jamie Hook at the helm and the renovations complete, Sag Harbor Cinema is one to watch in 2021, with the nonprofit cinema set to become a great center for arts in the community. In October, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, along with Sag Harbor Cinema Chair April Gornik and others, participated in a ribbon cutting to commemorate all the progress they’ve made.

The Drive-In Returns
Did anyone have the return of the drive-in theater on their 2020 bingo card? Offering moviegoers a fun, safe night out, The Gateway hosted drive-in screenings of fan favorite films like Die Hard and All for the East End (AFTEE) hosted a series to raise money for food pantries with films like Dirty Dancing. WHBPAC held a series of rare concert footage screenings.

More from Our Sister Sites