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History of the Avram Theater

Avram Gallery

The Avram Theater at Stony Brook Southampton, for over two decades one of the leading venues for the arts on the East End, was substantially renovated beginning September 2007.

The restoration included the installation of new seats, modernized lighting and sound equipment, backstage renovations, and modifications to make the theater fully accessible.

The 429-seat Avram Theater has been the site of leading artistic events since the 1980s, including dance and musical recitals, dramatic performances, operas, theater productions, and Pianofest, a series of concerts by internationally-acclaimed classical musicians. After Stony Brook University purchased the former Southampton College property in 2006, President Shirley Strum Kenny pledged to revitalize the cultural resources at the new Stony Brook Southampton campus.

The theater restoration was made possible, in part, through a significant, multi-year gift by Dr. Morrell Avram and his wife, Maria, long-time patrons of the arts. Other fund-raising efforts in support of the project will continue throughout the coming years.

group singing

"We are so grateful for the Avram family's continued commitment to this wonderful theater," Dr. Kenny said. "The Avram Theater has long been associated with the arts and important cultural and educational events on the East End. With support from Mike and Maria and their family, it will once again become an unparalleled destination for outstanding performances, lectures, and discussions of issues that matter most to the people of Long Island, the nation, and the world."

"The 21 members of the immediate Avram family have a profound interest in improving the cultural life of Eastern Long Island," Dr. Avram said. "The future of the Avram Theater is very bright indeed."

Dr. Avram is Chief of the Avram Division of Nephrology and Professor of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. He is considered a pioneer in organ transplantation and specializes in artificial kidney life-maintenance. He and his wife have long been supporters of higher education and the arts on the East End.

The Avram Theater and the adjacent Avram Family Art Gallery were named after them in 1998 in recognition of their generosity to the former Southampton College of Long Island University.

Leonard Ziemkiewicz, who has extensive experience in administration and operations for performing arts venues, has been named Theater Manager for the Avram Theater. Ziemkiewicz previously was Operations Manager for the Performing Arts at the Ross School. He also has worked with various theater companies such as The Pittsburgh Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and the Town Hall of New York City.

He also served as General Manager of Theater Row in Manhattan, a complex of five theaters and 15 rehearsal spaces, which primarily served the not-for-profit theater community.

The Avram Theater is a key component in Stony Brook’s vision of integrating the East End Arts community into the campus environment. Already, the theater is home to "Sustainable Treasures," a series of musical performances which began in the summer of 2007 and will continue through 2008. The performances feature leading artists from the world of opera, jazz and Broadway.

Other events include the highly-acclaimed Southampton Writers Conference and the Center for Wine, Food and Culture conferences and the ever popular Pianofest with Dr. Paul Schenly.