How Patchogue’s Arts Scene Sculpted its Comeback

Patchogue’s Alive After 5 summer street festival, which runs Fridays in July and August, attracts thousands.

Politicians, developers, microbrewers and restaurateurs are often credited with fueling Patchogue’s resurgence as a Long Island destination, but the village’s comeback is also thanks in large part to its burgeoning arts scene.

The artistic renaissance binds the booming downtown, where the last decade ushered in one of LI’s few and newest arthouse cinemas, an artists’ colony, new music venues and last year’s $1 million renovation of the island’s largest nonprofit performing arts center — the historic Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts – credited with sparking the revival.

“Patchogue Theatre is important to the village because it brings people to the village,” says Jack Krieger, Patchogue’s deputy mayor. “When people come to the theatre and they see a show…after the show [they] stop by one of our restaurants or walk around the village and enjoy themselves.”

The same could be said for the village’s other creative lures. That’s the idea behind the Patchogue Arts Council — one of a handful of such groups on Long Island dedicated to a specific community — that serves as a muse hosting local events encouraging, supporting and promoting artists of all media since the council was founded in 2008.

Artspace Patchogue Lofts, an $18 million development with affordable housing units dedicated for artists and their families, started leasing to tenants in 2010. That year, the Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center — which screens foreign and independent films, often with panel discussions — opened on the ground floor of the building.

“It’s more of a cultural center than a commercial cineplex,” says Catherine Oberg, PlazaMAC’s executive director. “Patrons come from…miles around.”

Besides traditional fine art galleries, the village displays a permanent exhibit of murals along Roe Walkway, which links Artspace and PlazaMAC on Terry Street with Main Street a block north. Mayor Paul Pontieri calls it “the pathway connecting arts in Patchogue.”

The village also hosts the summertime biweekly Alive After Five music and arts street fair on Main Street. All that’s in addition to conventional live music venues such as 89 North and Stereo Garden LI, which replaced The Emporium last month.

With such plentiful arts to patronize, Patchogue awaits.