The North Fork Arts Center: Revitalizing The Historic Greenport Theater

The North Fork Arts Center held a well-attended volunteer day on Saturday, April 15, at the Greenport Theater. Community members were invited to come out and support NFAC’s mission to rejuvenate the historic theater.

The goal is to preserve the Greenport Theater as a vibrant creative hub and ensure a broad range of artistic and cultural experiences for the North Fork, while fostering inclusivity and providing programming that caters to filmmakers, musicians, poets, painters, writers, actors, photographers, and visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

The non-profit organization has plans to enrich the community through film, performing arts, and arts education. With a fundraising goal of $1 million, NFAC has already secured that amount in pledges, ensuring a sustainable future. The $1M is not to purchase the theater — owner Josh Sapan said he would gift the theater to the group providing the non-profit could raise the funds and show they had community support. Now it’s time to convert pledges into dollars.

The revitalized Greenport Theater will offer diverse programming such as curated film series, poetry events, art exhibitions, and an international screenwriting competition. NFAC also plans to provide hands-on training experiences and Q&A sessions with industry professionals. 

Executive Director Tony Spiridakis, the founder of the Manhattan Film Institute, is the head of NFAC’s fundraising efforts. “The strong support from the North Fork community is amazing and keeps growing,” he said. “We’ve united a remarkable group of talented individuals. We need everyone’s help to create a true cultural arts center on the North Fork.”

Spiridakis along with NFAC’s creative director Shannon Goldman — the founder of Super G Films, a New York-based production company — started working with the Greenport Theater when they created a winter film series with MFI in 2019. 

They hope that the restoration of the theater would also have a significant economic impact on the community, particularly helping surrounding businesses during the winter season, as was seen during the winter film series. “People would come and they’d go to the restaurants,” said Goldman. 

“It’s so much more than a movie theater,” said Spiridakis. Among the plans for the center are a North Fork Film Festival, featuring film screenings, seminars, workshops, and Q&A’s with top film industry professionals.

“We’re able to bring in a lot of people to do talks, building high-end talent plus community, and then an established education component with MFI. Between all of those things I think we have a great outlook for how we’ll be able to move forward,” said Goldman.

In the venue’s storefront space the group is considering uses such as a 22-seat café, an art gallery, and additional classroom space. The plan for the upstairs theater one, which is the largest space, will be to host a variety of events including film series, live performances, festivals, lectures, and first-run films during the summer. Theaters two and three, located on the ground floor off the lobby, will host the Winter Film Series, lectures, film festival screenings, and more. Theater four will serve as a multi-purpose space for classes, private screenings, script readings, private events, and art exhibitions. Plans for the long hallway leading to theater four include Artist’s Alley, an art gallery with rotating exhibits. The target opening date is late 2023.

Goldman said so far the process has been filled with working with “likeminded, creative, exceptional, and giving people who want to make this a genuine arts center.”

“I’ve been coming here since I was five years old, so for me to get to see this preserved is wild. There’s nothing better,” said Spiridakis.

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