Why Save a Theater?

Posted on 25 September 2009

 “The arts live continuously, and they live literally by faith; their nature and their shapes and their uses survive unchanged in all that matters through times of interruption, diminishment, neglect; and they outlive governments and creeds and societies; even the very civilizations that produced them. They cannot be destroyed altogether because they represent the substance of faith and the only reality. They are what we find again when the ruins are cleared away.”

                                    – Katherine Anne Porter


Not too long ago Bay Street Theatre received a letter from a former student who took part in our educational program who said, “…I had an experience of a lifetime that was much needed for a fifteen year old. You all left such a mark of inspiration on my life that encourages me still today. Thanks for your investment in my life and the life of others…”

Inspiring and investing in lives is part of what we do. And so we write to ask you, our East End community, to reinvest in us.

It will be of little surprise to anyone that we have been hit hard by the economy.  But what many folks don’t realize is that Bay Street is a not-for-profit institution which derives less than half of its operating income through actual ticket sales. The remaining percentage must be raised through individual gifts, government and corporate support, and fundraising events, with a preponderance of that income coming from the individual –that’s you.

Why save a theater? There are several reasons.

First, we are here to serve the communities’ needs. May sound corny, but it’s true. And we don’t mean simply keeping people entertained.

In recent years we have made a very concerted effort to open our doors for any and all community requests—and to be a good neighbor without being asked. We hold events and offer ticket donations to benefit other non-profits such as the Southampton Hospital, East End Hospice, our local fire departments and food pantries. We respond to the requests of our community by offering theater camp for kids and a home for Stages Children’s Workshop, and by providing low cost family entertainment such as the Classic Picture Show Film Series. We serve as a gathering place for the community, from holiday sing-a-longs to a place for Santa to visit. And we do all of these things at little or no cost to the public.

Second, the money you invest with Bay Street goes right back into the East End community. Throughout the year, we employ large numbers of people—from carpenters to piano tuners, from bartenders to plumbers. We shop in our local stores, frequent our local restaurants, and purchase supplies from our local vendors. We rent 10-12 houses and rooms at our local hotels. We purchase ads in our local papers and radio stations. Throughout the year we bring in over 25,000 visitors to this community who come to see our shows, and they too frequent our local establishments.

Finally, we firmly believe that having a theater that provides entertainment, education, and community support in all different forms, both on and off season, is simply a wonderful asset to any community. But Bay Street will not survive unless the community feels the same. We truly believe that together, with your help, Bay Street can survive and flourish so that our community here in Sag Harbor, on the East End, continues to be enriched and made more vital. 

If you feel the same, then any size donation is welcome and checks may be written and sent to Bay Street Theatre, PO Box 810, Sag Harbor, NY 11963. Or you may call us at 631-725-0818, or go to www.baystreet.org  and click on ‘Ways To Give’, or visit us on the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.

Sybil Christopher, Murphy Davis, Julie Fitzgerald, Gary Hygom, Tracy Mitchell

Bay Street Theatre Management Team

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