Pushing on through the greatest challenge in its 22-year history, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center will go to a well that it's never drawn from before — the trusty telethon. The Westhampton Beach venue, closed since March, will launch a livestream telethon on Oct. 17 from 8 to 10 p.m., with Square Feeet covering songs from the '70s.
Over the two-hour running time, the telethon ("Here Come the '70s") will stream on the Center's numerous platforms, as well as on whbpac.org. A popular cover band throughout the tristate area, Feeet was founded in 1999 by keyboardist Jimmy Kuhn and bass player Billy Mendelson; Kuhn is also chairman of WHBPAC.
While there is, of course, no charge to watch, there will be hooks, including this: For a $2,500 donation, you can rent out the entire theater, a former 1932 movie house that was renovated in the late '90s and which seats 425. The catch: You can only bring your family, but the venue will supply snacks and the movie of your choice.
No one needs to be told that this is a tough moment for live events venues on Long Island. WHBPAC, which has been holding live virtual events for months, hopes to raise $25,000 next Saturday to cover operating expenses. And while future telethons are also expected, "hopefully this will be the first of only a few," says WHBPAC spokeswoman Heather Draskin.
During the telethon, "we really want to highlight that culture is not optional and performing arts are not optional," she says. "We want to have a place for people to come to us," then referring to the live events industry on Long Island, "it is a dire situation all around."
In a statement, WHBPAC executive director Julienne Penza-Boone said: "While surrounding states [New Jersey, Connecticut] are reopening live venues, we are working hard to maintain our theater — and we can't wait to have a night of music and fun as the cultural arts are in urgent need of funding and hope."
Square Feeet will cover songs by the Eagles, Queen, Fleetwood Mac and Styx. Billy Joel songs "might show up" in the play list, too, says Draskin.
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