The ArtsEmerson leadership team on the practice of using the Emerson Paramount Center and Cutler Majestic Theatre marquees for far more than show promotion.
We have made a habit of using our marquees to speak to the city about the values of the College and ArtsEmerson pretty much since the new leadership team took over in January of 2015. We have had messages about Charleston and Orlando, they celebrated the Supreme Court decision on Gay Marriage, they saluted the Patriots in the Super Bowl, things of that nature.
The morning after the 2016 election, we started to run the We Choose message to demonstrate that we are a welcoming, inclusive space for all.
We choose: hope, love, respect, equality, community, inclusivity, generosity, art, curiosity, compassion.
That’s been on and off the marquees all year. When the Muslim ban was first announced, the marquees displayed the Statue of Liberty with the “Give Me Your Tired” poem, for months. When the Trump administration started going after the transgender community we displayed the following message:
Gender diversity is respected at Emerson. We see you. We stand with you. You are welcome here.
We think of these messages as ArtsEmerson and Emerson College being in dialogue with our community. The messages state our core values and are not intended to be divisive politically. They are stated in relation to the events of the day. Sometimes they stay up a long time, sometimes they are up just for a few days.
ArtsEmerson Co-Artistic Director David Dower authors them, and they are reviewed by President Lee Pelton before they are posted. “One of the great things about working for Lee is that he has always and only said ‘keep going’ when I have shared with him my intentions,” Dower commented.
The messages are routinely photographed by passersby and forwarded around social media. The Dreamers message, in particular, has been widely distributed. They also wind up in other publications. The We Choose message is also on the cover of ArtsEmerson’s brochure this season.