Yesterday, just hours after Governor Cuomo announced that most COVID-19 related restrictions were eased effective immediately, the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center welcomed audiences back to our summer cinema program: Tuesday Nights at the Movies with Andrew was starting off on the right foot.

The timing was fortuitous. We hadn’t planned on the Governor’s announcement coinciding with the first of our films, but it meant greeting our movie-goers with huge grins that they could actually see for lack of masks on our faces. It meant that there was now no real barrier to bringing Undine and other foreign or independent first run films to East End audiences. The films would stand or fall on their own.

We talked a lot as a staff about the future of the WHBPAC during the shut-downs. We never officially closed, instead pivoting to live streaming, drive-ins, and virtual programs. We watched restrictions and guidelines like a hawk, and (safely) carried on with our Arts Academy programs in person the minute we were able to. To a person, the staff here believes passionately and deeply in our mission to bring new cultural experiences to the area and to inject life into Westhampton Beach.

With that in mind, we expanded our film season this year to include June. Andrew Botsford, who is celebrating 15 years of Tuesday Nights with us this year, graciously will host ten more discussions between now and Labor Day. We looked for films that were relevant, irreverent, absurd, poignant, entertaining, informative, and – most of all – thought-provoking.

This is a summer for passion and dance, for fire and for spoken word, for being true to who you are and looking damn good while doing it. This is a summer for werewolves and giant flies, for monsters as symbols for greater issues. But at its heart, this is a summer for connecting with those around you. Give these films space in your mind; discuss them; dissect them – together.