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Sag Harbor's Bay Street Theatre launching three-week fundraising campaign

Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor has started a three-week fundraising drive, sparked by an offer by its executive committee to match, dollar for dollar, any funds it can raise by March 15, up to $100,000.

The gift offer was unexpected, according to theater spokesman Tim Kofahl.

“We started telling people last week,” he said.

The 299-seat theater on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor opened in 1991. It has been searching for a new home, either in Sag Harbor or elsewhere on the South Fork. While it missed a self-imposed deadline last year to find an alternate location, it did agree to a long-term lease which, with extensions, can run to 2023.

While the program for the 2013 season has been set, theater officials are starting a six-month “listening tour” — setting up meetings with groups across the Hamptons in an effort to find out what kinds of plays and programs the theater should offer in 2014.

“We’re not only a theater, we’re a community resource,” Kofahl said. “Sag Harbor’s elementary school holds their talent show here, we have film festivals for different groups ... When they had the earthquake in Japan, we held a fundraiser here” for the victims.

Executive director Tracy Mitchell said it was the most ambitious effort to reach out to potential audiences since Bay Street was founded.

She said it would be interesting to learn whether people are interested in more drama, avant-garde plays or experimental theater.
 

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