On Saturday February 3rd, I returned to the Garde Arts Center to see the movie Manchester by the Sea. While watching this moving movie about a man looking for redemption and finding it in his recently orphaned nephew made me think about how the Garde has moved many people in the New London, Connecticut community. In the lobby there are advertisements for Adopt a Grandparent and a binder filled with letters from local schools who had come and visited the Garde for a School Time Performance.
After seeing all of this it is no wonder that members of the community contacted the Garde Arts Center to tell them they want to start a campaign to keep the marquee lights on. This night there were two ladies who were running the table which contained two water jugs with money already donated from members of community with a poster board with some names on cards on them.
When the doors opened some patrons who had been at the Garde the night before noticed their names were not on there, they were informed that their card had been brought down to New London Main Street and put on display there. New London Main Street is just one of their many sponsors who came to the Garde about keeping the lights on. “Sponsors for this project are: Atlantic Broadband, Neff Productions, Blueprints Unlimited, and New London Main Street,” marketing director Jeanne Sigel tells me. She told me while touching on the fact that they came to them. “They came to us saying we want to keep the marquee lights on. This is a grassroots campaign that they started. They came to us for the marquee lights,” she responded enthusiastically.
As I made my way around the theater there were many patrons who were donating again to “Keep Lights on Campaign” with writing their name on cards saying “Marquee are red, lights are blue, I love the Garde, how about you?” Then the lights flickered signaling the time to go inside the theater with patrons finishing writing their names on cards for the Garde to be added to the poster board.
When I entered the theater Steve Sigel, the Executive Director, welcomed guests to the historic movie palace by touching on the grassroots campaign that was started by the community for the Garde to keep the lights on. He welcomed New London Mayor Michael Passero who was in the audience as well as telling people Tom Bombria, whose photographs are on display for sale in the lobby, was visiting as well. After thanking the sponsor, Atlantic Broadband, the lights dimmed and previews for “Jackie” and “Fences” played as they are the coming to the Garde.
Then the movie started, by the end many were moved to tears as they gathered in the mezzanine for a social held afterwards by Atlantic Broadband. This time, I noticed the audience was very friendly to one another as the movie had inspired them that much. Many were hugging each other and making new friends as they talked about the greatness of the movie. After viewing this it is no wonder the Garde Arts Center of New London, Connecticut was able to get a grassroots campaign. A place where people go to see movies, plays, musicals, and so much more has been able to inspire a community like this. Then there are going to be local members of the community who are going to step with a grassroots campaign like “Keep the Marquee Lights On” at the Garde.