The Arts

North Fork Arts Center promises an exciting summer season

The new North Fork Arts Center held a triumphant ribbon-cutting ceremony ahead of what is shaping up to be an illustrious summer season full of movie screenings, comedians, celebrity panels, artistic residencies and the world premiere of a new Hollywood movie.

The arts center’s executive director, screenwriter Tony Spiridakis, said in an interview at the event that he sees the former cinema building as a “portfolio.”

“I always, always believed in the diversification of this portfolio,” he said. “We’re in a building and I see it as a portfolio. It was only movies. And I always saw it as more than that — as dance and music and art. So the question became, ‘How can we effectively transform an old movie theater into an art center?’ And that’s been, I think, what resonated with people … when we said, ‘We’re going to bring the Brooklyn Ballet, we’re going to bring comics, we’re going to bring music’ — that becomes a bigger, more wonderful thing.”

In a speech in which he thanked the arts center’s board and supporters and two people he introduced as his “partners in crime,” operations manager Liz Gillooly and creative director Shannon Goldman, Mr. Spiridakis talked about his vision of drawing talent to the arts center.

“One thing I want to say to you [is] that whoever you’re getting popcorn from or soda from, just remember that person working the concessions might be teaching your kid acting next year. The way that we’re hiring and building is, we’re building a creative family that isn’t just serving the popcorn — they actually probably have their MFAs, and they can be teaching next year here. So we’re getting people to do the little things, but to become invested in the future thing.”

Mr. Spiridakis also saluted director of community engagement Robin Lockwood, grants manager Meghan Krumholz and others vital to the project. 

Greenport Mayor Kevin Stuessi, who cut the ceremonial red ribbon in front of the new arts center, said it was a game-changer for the village.

“What has been done by creating this special place — it’s going to give back so much more, tenfold, to everybody, not just in Greenport but the entire East End.”

The mayor also touted the May 31 world premiere of a new film Mr. Spiridakis wrote, “Ezra,” starring actors Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne, both of whom will be on hand alongside director Tony Goldwyn for a Q&A after the movie.

Calling the arts center “the most significant thing that has happened to the community since Mitchell Park opened [in 2001],” Mr. Stuessi vowed to “shut down the street and roll out the red carpet” for the big premiere.

Members of the Brooklyn Ballet worked with Greenport students last week as part of their three week residency at the new North Fork Arts Center.

“It’s going to be a magical moment for Greenport,” he said.

Ms. Gillooly, a Southold Town trustee, has been part of the project from the start.

“I’m an elected official, and I have to say that through doing this work, I feel more connected to the community than I ever have before,” she said Thursday. “There are so many different people who are so invested in what we’re doing here. And it’s just inspiring and uplifting and makes you feel really, really good.”

Gesturing toward a huge list of donors and supporters, she said, “When I look at the wall, which has over 900 names on it … it’s really a testament to how many people care about what’s happening here … to have a little bit of arts around us, it’s such an important part of the community.”

Mr. Goldman said that upcoming artist residencies would include more than just performances at the arts center, including the Brooklyn Ballet’s three-week residency.

“Part of the residency is that they went to Greenport High School and did an assembly for the middle school and elementary school kids. And then they did workshops with them. And just today, [the ballet troupe] did the same thing at Peconic Landing. And it was incredible — it was incredible.

“Tony speaks so eloquently about this, which is that the Brooklyn Ballet is a diverse group of all shapes, sizes and colors — and so is Greenport. So for these kids to see the possibilities of things that they didn’t know possible. All of a sudden they’re seeing them going across the stage, and it opens pathways. And that’s an idea.”