WNPR

Theaters Across Connecticut Join In Pre-Inauguration "Ghost Light" Demonstration

Jan 20, 2017

Over a dozen Connecticut theaters hosted “ghost light” ceremonies on the eve of the presidential inauguration, joining 700 theaters nationwide in a pledge for inclusiveness and diversity in the arts.

Participants shined their flashlights and cellphone lights in unison at 5:30 p.m. to symbolize the theatrical tradition of the “ghost light” -- a single bulb kept on in an empty theater. 

At the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Communications Manager Paul Marte lead the ceremony.

“Like a ghost light, the light we create tonight will represent our commitment to safeguard,” Marte said, reading a statement prepared by the Ghostlight Project, the group organizing the national event. “It will symbolize safe harbor for our values. And for any among us who find ourselves targeted because of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, disability, gender identity, sexual identity, or dissident actions in the coming years.”

Many in the crowd in front of the Bushnell held personal pledge cards that declared their support for the LGBT community, women’s rights, and minority groups.  

A few blocks away at a ceremony in front of Sea Tea Improv, Stacey Queen, who works at the Amistad Center at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, said the ghost light ceremony to her was more an awareness campaign than a protest.

“We have so many students that come to the museum who perhaps don’t have art in school, or they don’t have a music program,” Queen said. “And we are galvanizing and banding together in hopes that our new president and new administration feel very strongly about supporting the arts”  

Little is known about President-elect Donald Trump’s stance on theater and the arts. A report in The Hill suggests the Trump administration may eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. 

In November, Trump had a few words about the theater when he bristled with the cast of the Broadway show “Hamilton” on Twitter after they asked Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience of one of their performances, for Trump's administration to be more supportive of people of different backgrounds and orientations.