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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    The Garde is a winner (but you knew that)

    If there was any doubt the Garde Arts Center is a vital community asset, the robust turnout for the late August event recognizing a national award the theater recently won should quash those misgivings.

    A crowd of pre-pandemic proportions mingled in the Garde’s lobby Aug. 25, laughing, talking and enjoying food provided by several local restaurants before gathering in the theater’s auditorium to listen to a long lineup of congratulatory speeches by local and state officials and many others who have played a role in the performing arts center’s success. The event recognized the Garde for earning the Outstanding Historic Theater Award from the League of Historic Theaters.

    When the award was presented in July to Garde Executive Director Steve Sigel, the league’s president and CEO Ken Stein said, “The 1926 Garde Arts Center stood out among an impressive list of nominations to claim the award this year … While there were many reasons the Garde was worthy of the award, our judges were particularly impressed with how connected the theater was to almost every aspect of its community.”

    Indeed, community outreach is both a driver of and a prime reason for the Garde’s success. Evidence of its many community connections were clear at the celebratory event.

    Current and former members of the theater’s board; performers ranging from the US Coast Guard Band to local vocalist Billy Gilman to youth who burst onto the stage through the annual New London Youth Talent Show; local, state and national lawmakers and many others were on hand to offer congratulations to the theater and to Steve and Jeanne Sigel for being the force behind the Garde’s success.

    The Day has long supported the Garde and this latest achievement is just another testament to the huge and positive impact the theater has on the city. Performances by the likes of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and a range of nationally known performers and local favorites, along with special events such as the Winter Cinema Series, draw audiences from throughout the region who might not otherwise venture to New London. Downtown bustles with people who fill restaurants and bars when there is a show at the Garde.

    The Garde also is a leader in community outreach: hosting many programs aimed specifically at fostering local talent and a love for the arts among youth, using its marquee for a variety of community service announcements and providing a space for many types of community events.

    We join the many other voices in offering sincerest congratulations to the Garde and its leadership for this well-deserved national recognition that is all the more sweeter coming as it does on the heels of the difficult pandemic years. We hope the mutually beneficial theater-community relationship only grows stronger with time and that more recognition is in store for this small but mighty theater.

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