STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Though cocktails and crudités flowed freely at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden’s soiree this week, there was more to the party than just food and drinks.
Public Broadcasting’s “Treasures of New York: Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden,” a film depicting a behind-the-scenes look at the beauty that is Snug Harbor, and its history, was aired at the North Shore cultural crown jewel.
The documentary visits the magnificent campus that includes the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, which includes pavilions and a koi pond, the Music Hall, the second oldest venue of its kind in New York City after Carnegie Hall, the Staten Island Museum, the Children’s Museum and the Noble Museum.
Additional New York metro area airdates include Sunday, April 3 at 7 p.m. on THIRTEEN and Friday, April 22 at 8 p.m. on the ALL ARTS TV channel (channel lineup).
It also will air Thursday, April 7 at 10:30 p.m. on NJ PBS or share it online at this link.
Betsy Dubovsky was instrumental in the Staten Island Foundation’s funding two Public Broadcasting “Treasures of New York” broadcasts focused on Staten Island, one on the historic St. George Theatre, and the other on Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, before she died in February 2021. She was foundation executive director.
“Treasures of New York: Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden” features interviews with staffers and board members including Martha Neighbors, vice president Development & External Affairs, Susannah Abbate, director of Education & Engagement, Mark Lauria, chairman, board of directors, Anita Laremont, first vice chairman, board of directors), Alice Diamond, founding board member, and Brian Laline, executive editor, Staten Island Advance and secretary, board of directors.
Additional interviews include visual artist and arts activist Joyce Malerba Goldstein, Debi Rose, former North Shore Council member, and historian Debbie-Ann Paige.
Treasures of New York explores New York’s cultural heritage by spotlighting points of interest, distinguished establishments and notable figures, including MoMA, The Jewish Museum, the US Open, The Juilliard School, St. George Theatre, American Museum of Natural History, The New-York Historical Society, Hearst Tower and more. All episodes are streaming now at wliw.org/treasures and the THIRTEEN Explore app
As CEO of The WNET Group, Neil Shapiro oversees the operations of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and the network NJ PBS.
“The film got off the ground when Brian Laline and Caroline Diamond Harrison met with Neil Shapiro of Channel 13 and approached the late Betsy Dubovsky of The Staten Island Foundation, who agreed to fund $150,000 for the film.,” noted chairman of the Snug board, Mark Lauria. “Hopefully the film will put us on the map in the tri-state area and will help us with funding. This is an honor for us and really very special. And Kathy Connors, chair of Friends of 13, was also influential in having the project come to fruition. There’s something for everyone at Snug Harbor.”
“Today we share the treasure that is Snug Harbor,” said Jessica Baker Vodoor, Snug Harbor’s new president and CEO, before acknowledging myriad individuals for their hand in supprting Snug Harbor, including the City of New York, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the corporate partners who are Snug Harbor members, especially during these challenging pandemic times.
“Thank you for your partnership and for being here. This is an incredible gift from so many passionate people whose deep roots we are celebrating tonight at this enchanting oasis on the water.”
Neighbors, who filled the role of interim CEO prior to Vodoor’s appointment, also acknowledged deserving individuals for their hand in seeing the project through. ”Snug Harbor is an absolute jewel in New York City. Thanks to all of you again. And thanks to Kathy Connors of Friends of Channel 13, Caroline Harrison, Brian Laline, Neil Shapiro and the St. George Theatre who are here tonight. And special thanks to Betsy Dubovsky for the gift of $150,000 from The Staten Island Foundation. That’s what she was all about.”
Kathy Connors, chairwoman of the Friends of THIRTEEN, explained: “The Friends of Thirteen adds its heartfelt congratulations to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden as it joins MoMa, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the St. George Theatre, and New York City’s premier cultural establishments as a “Treasure of New York.” We, at the Friends of Thirteen commend this Emmy Award-winning documentary series for capturing and portraying the essence, history, and significance of Snug Harbor and thank those in our Staten Island community who have supported the project including the Staten Island Foundation and Staten Island Advance family.”
ABOUT SNUG HARBOR
A campus of 83 acres, Snug Harbor is dotted with lush lawns and sky high trees, 23 19th century buildings and 14 botanical gardens, a celebrated New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, the Richmond County Savings Foundation Tuscan Garden and a two-acre urban farm.
It’s home to the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Staten Island Museum, Staten Island Children’s Museum, Noble Maritime Collection, Art Lab, Children’s Harbor Montessori School, and Staten Island Conservatory of Music, as well as dozens of other small businesses, artists and musicians, tenants, and renters.
Opened in 1833 as a haven for retired, impoverished sailors, “Sailors’ Snug Harbor” was at one time a self-sustaining community that included dormitories, a farm, a power plant, a hospital, a music hall and much more.
In the early 1970s, local activists and artists convinced the City of New York to purchase the property with the objective of creating a public cultural resource for everyone to enjoy. In 1975, the not-for-profit Snug Harbor Cultural Center was formed and it was saved from becoming a series of high-rises.
In July 1976 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, a cultural preservationist since she was a young girl, toured the grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center with Thomas Schleier, then board chairman, historian Barnett Shepherd, and Alice Diamond, the wife of Advance Publisher Richard E. Diamond.
Mrs. Diamond, and Norma D’Arrigo, an Advance Woman of Achievement and wife of the late Surrogate Charles D’Arrigo, were several of the pioneers who stepped up to the plate to save the former Sailors’ Snug Harbor from becoming apartment buildings.
Today, Snug Harbor hosts festivals, like the Juneteenth Freedom Festival and the NYC Winter Lantern Festival, and facilitates class trips, tours and other events.