North Fork Arts Center renovation is underway

Last week, North Fork Arts Center executive director Tony Spiridakis gave the Greenport Village Board a preview of the new nonprofit’s spring debut season.

“Our first event is going to be a three-week residency of the Brooklyn Ballet,” he told board members at their Thursday evening work session. The residency will be followed on May 31 by the premiere of a new film, “Ezra,” which Mr. Spiridakis wrote.

In an interview after the meeting, Mr. Spiridakis said “Ezra” is about a standup comedian and stars Robert De Niro, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne. It premiered last fall at the Toronto Film Festival.

For June, he told Greenport officials North Fork Arts Center, “just booked and solidified a deal with Colin Quinn to come do an evening of comedy for us as a fundraiser — to help us pay for all this.” 

Mr. Spiridakis shared these plans in the course of answering questions from the board about a beer and wine license the arts center is seeking. If the state license is granted, beer and wine will be sold at the arts center’s concession stands.  

He said the first phase of a major renovation project would begin this week, after a dizzying set of necessary repairs was identified throughout the roughly 9,600-square-foot space on Front St.  

“It was very, very interesting — pull one thread and another bunch of threads will come undone,” Mr. Spiridakis said. 

He said the stage in the upstairs theater — which has 295 seats, a movie screen and an 18-by-60-foot stage — would require extensive renovation in order to get a certificate of occupancy to operate as a theater. 

“We’re going to begin demolishing the stage on Monday, and hope to be done by mid-April,” he said, adding that the audio system in the upstairs theater would be upgraded to surround sound. 

“I don’t know if people know this, but we still have the mono speakers from way back, so if you go see a Marvel movie at our theater, you’ve got one little speaker in the back of the screen — and it’s just different to see ‘Thor’ that way,” he said, referring to the Marvel movie.

He also said that the upstairs stage will be lowered and the stage floor replaced. 

“We’re going to put lighting and … have audio equipment so that when we have lectures series, there’s going to be a beautiful way to hear those lectures.”

Finally, he said, “we’re going to have our projectors talking to each other so that if you see something upstairs, you could actually simulcast it to any of the theaters down below.”

Mr. Spiridakis  said planners anticipate the center will need at least two managers, who would also serve as projectionists — and possibly as many as four in the height of the summer season. 

He said this phase of the North Fork Arts Center renovation would be completed by May. 

A second phase of the renovation is still in the planning stage but hasn’t yet received the required permits. 

As part of that phase, he said, “one of the theaters is going to be turned into a full-time, black box educational space … to create a classroom space … and make it very clear that we’re more than just a movie theater.”

At another point in the meeting, Mr. Spiridakis told the board, “This has been so much of a community engagement project. We have lists of hundreds of volunteers who want to work with us.”