The Southampton Cultural Center is a one-woman show.
Kirsten Lonnie, the executive director, is the only full-time employee at the Hamptons arts establishment. The Center partnered with the Village of Southampton, which owns the building. Otherwise, other employees, such as artistic directors, are paid on a job-by-job basis. Volunteers typically staff events.
The Center prides itself in its high quality programming and affordable tickets. Their mission is to “engage our diverse community and to nourish excellence in all creative art forms as a welcoming venue for dynamic programs centered on education, exhibition and performance.” Lonnie feels that the center accomplishes this by its outreach and being affordable with diverse programming.
The Cultural Center offers concerts of all kinds along with theater and art exhibits.
“I don’t have a single favorite because I love theater,” Lonnie said when asked what her favorite program. “I love classical music. I love lessons. I can’t really pinpoint one.
The Southampton Cultural Center was founded in 1985. The mayor at the time set out to convert a bowling alley into an arts establishment for Southampton residents. Lonnie was one of the founding members in 1985 and joined the board of directors in 1987. Eventually they became a non-profit organization. The culture hall’s renovations have allowed auditoriums with high quality acoustics.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is where we are,” Lonnie said. Many people who seek out the Southampton Cultural Center do not realize that the culture hall is actually situated in Agawam Park. To fix this, Lonnie said that the center is investing more into marketing and public relations.
To prepare for events that contract use of the venue, Lonnie and her band of 15 or so volunteers make sure that everything is clean. Any instruments that are being used are finely tuned. Sometimes there are dinners and receptions for performers.
One such performance is The Perlman Music Program’s Chamber Music Workshop performance, “Cultural Collaborations.”
Merry Peckham, the director of the Chamber Music Workshop for the Perlman Music Program, said that she could tell just by looking at the Southampton Cultural Center that it will be a good venue for her Perlman Music Program performance.
“You want a hall that will have the acoustics that allow beautiful range in the tone,” Peckham said of the Southampton Cultural Center. “It’s not like singing in the shower. You need reverberance as well as clarity.”
The Southampton Cultural Center is located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. For more information call or visit southamptonculturalcenter.org.