A sigh of relief was almost audible in Sag Harbor this week, following an announcement that the Bay Street Theatre had signed a 10-year lease for the building on Long Wharf it has leased for two decades. It had been reported last fall that the 2012 season would be the theater’s last in that location.
The agreement with the building’s owner, Pat Malloy, provides for minimal increase in rent and will provide, according to a press release, stability while the Bay Street board of directors continues to seek a home of its own. The lease offers an “out” should Bay Street decide to move on. Mr. Malloy had previously offered the theater a short-term lease that carried cost increases.
Murphy Davis, Bay Street’s artistic director, expressed gratitude to the East End community for having come forward with ideas and to “Pat Malloy for his understanding and his good will.” He was referring to an open forum last fall, which, he said, generated ideas, interest, and funding sources.
Members of the theater’s board, village residents, and others all spoke their minds at the forum, with no one in favor of the theater’s leaving the village. The most likely and affordable move under consideration had been for the theater to move to the Parrish Art Museum building in Southampton Village, which is to be vacated soon.
The Southampton Village Board had offered Bay Street an “essentially rent-free 50- year lease” of the building, which would have entailed substantial renovation.
“I’m thrilled,” said Tracy Mitchell, the theater’s executive director. “It is great to have everyone excited. Now the real work begins.”
The theater can now focus on its programming, including its recently-announced Mainstage Season lineup, which will include a revival of “Men’s Lives,” the play by Sag Harbor’s Joe Pintauro based on the book by Peter Matthiessen about East Hampton fishermen. It was Bay Street’s inaugural production 20 years ago.