Arts Groups Team Up for THAW

Nineteen of the South Fork’s cultural institutions have formed a new group, the Hamptons Arts Network, to work together to promote artistic endeavors in the Hamptons.

The group, which has been meeting for about a year, is hosting its first event, “THAW FEST,” the weekend of March 23 through 25, with programming throughout the weekend at arts institutions throughout the South Fork.

About a year ago, Elka Rifkin, Terri Sultan and Andrea Grover, directors, respectively of The Watermill Center, Parrish Art Museum and Guild Hall, put together a plan to gather leaders of arts institutions for cocktails at Baron’s Cove Inn in Sag Harbor.

They’ve been meeting on a monthly basis ever since, said Bay Street Theatre Executive Director Tracy Mitchell, who is handing public relations for the THAW FEST.

“There is no reason why the Hamptons shouldn’t be known, as the Berkshires are, as a place of great art, and all kinds of art,” she said. “We have such access, not only to artists out here, who have always come for the light, but to some of the best talent from the city. We have great art and great culture year-round.”

The THAW FEST begins with a kick-off party on Friday, March 23 at the Southampton Arts Center.

Events on Friday include a poetry reading from the People’s State of the Union at the Parrish Art Museum, All Star Comedy at the Bay Street Theatre, lectures at the East Hampton Historical Society’s Clinton Academy, performances of “Romeo & Juliet” at Guild Hall and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” at the Southampton Cultural Center and a film screening of “Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight” at the Southampton Arts Center.

Saturday’s events include artist talks at The Watermilll Center, tours of Longhouse Reserve, candlelight tours of the Southampton African American Museum, a screening of “Pollock” at the Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center, flora paintings by Robert Dash at the Madoo Conservancy and a lecture on homes of whaling captains at the Southampton Historical Museum.

Sunday’s events include film screenings from the Hamptons Take 2 Film Fest at Bay Street Theatre, Sound Bath meditation at the Southampton Arts Center, a King’s Chapel concert at the Southampton African American Museum and open houses and gallery tours at institutions throughout the South Fork.

A full schedule of events is online at and ticket information and registration are on the individual arts organizations’ websites.

Ms. Mitchell, of Bay Street Theatre, said the consortium is planning to grow slowly, and may ultimately work to get its own non-profit status, to help get grant funding for the region as a whole.

“We plan to start small and grow,” she said. Our idea would be to eventually garner some funding, but we don’t want to overburden the people involved. Right now it’s run by the 10 executive directors, and we’re a little busy. But we may find that joint marketing helps so much.”

“The East End is blessed with a wide range of cultural institutions and resources that contribute substantially to the diverse and rich quality of life that we enjoy,” said State Assemblyman Fred Thiele. “Not only do the arts bring fullness to our daily lives, they are also a catalyst for our regional economy. Our cultural institutions foster tourism and create jobs across the economic spectrum. The decision of 19 local arts organizations to join together to create a unified arts community will only serve to strengthen their important role in our community and will spur economic activity for our local businesses year-round.”

Members of the Hamptons Arts Network include: Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Dia: Dan Flavin Art Institute, East Hampton Historical Society, Eastville Community Historical Society, Guild Hall,  Hamptons International Film Festival, Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival,  LongHouse Reserve, Madoo Conservancy, Parrish Art Museum,  Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center, Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center & Museum, Southampton African American Museum, Southampton Arts Center, Southampton Cultural Center, Southampton Historical Museum and The Watermill Center.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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