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Hamptons Life

Mar 12, 2019 12:08 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

THAWFest 2019: It May Be Cold Outside But The East End Arts Scene Is Heating Up

The directors of several local arts organizations gathered to discuss THAWfest at the Parrish Art Museum on March 2.
Back row: Elka Rifkin of The Watermill Center, Terrie Sultan of the Parrish Art Museum, Andrea Grover of Guild Hall, Tracey Mitchell of Bay Street Theater, Tom Edmonds of Southampton Historical Museum, Amy Kirwin of Southampton Arts Center Front Row: Georgette Grier-Key of Eastville Community Historical Society. Jacqui Lofaro of Hamptons Doc Fest, Maria Van of East Hampton Historical Society, Matko Tomicic of LongHouse Reserve, Anne Chaisson of the Hamptons International Film Festival, Marya Martin of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Helen Harrison of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, Alejandro Saralegui of Madoo Conservancy and Tom Dunn of Southampton Arts Center. BY ANNETTE HINKLE
Mar 12, 2019 12:18 PM

In December 2016, the various directors of an array of East End arts organizations got together to discuss how they might begin to partner and collaborate in a meaningful and dedicated way.

“We met at a bar in Sag Harbor and a lot of people showed up from both the North and South Forks, Montauk to Riverhead,” recalled Elka Rifkin from The Watermill Center. “And we discussed how we could support one another.”

From that discussion grew Hamptons Art Network (HAN), a nonprofit consortium composed of 19 South Fork museums, arts institutions, theaters and cultural centers. The primary mission of HAN is to support the arts on the South Fork and explore how member organizations can help drive the economy of the East End in the off season.

To that end, on March 2, personnel from many of those institutions, including Ms. Rifkin, gathered in the auditorium at the Parrish Art Museum to announce the second annual THAWFest, a weekend of arts events designed to do just that—bring people to enjoy the arts here in the off-season.

“We’re a year-round not-for-profit that does at least two public events per year,” Ms. Rifkin explained. “That’s how we’ve defined ourselves. We meet monthly and discuss ways we can work together with one another. … We’re an interesting and diverse group.”

Andrea Grover, the executive director of Guild Hall, explained that HAN is not just about boosting the number of visitors coming though the doors of the various arts organizations, but also doing the same for South Fork businesses.

“It’s about stimulating the economy not only for arts organizations but local inns, restaurants and retail spaces,” Ms. Grover said. “This is just the beginning. We could see growing with local chambers and inns to create a big weekend people look forward to.”

THAWFest runs Friday, March 22, to Sunday, March 24, at cultural institutions from Southampton to Amagansett. The Hamptons Visitors Council is supporting the effort by providing free trolley tours that will take visitors to the participating arts venues.

“Cultural production is not just about pictures on the wall,” Ms. Grover added. “We are the architects and the designers who fuse creativity into every part of the East End.”

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