The Garde in New London receives national Outstanding Historic Theatre Award


The Garde Arts Center earned the 2022 Outstanding Historic Theatre Award from the League of Historic American Theatres at the league’s national conference, which took place July 10-13 in Cleveland.

In presenting the award to Garde Executive Director Steve Sigel, LHAT 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.”

The nonprofit LHAT, which was founded in 1976, now has more than 1,100 users representing 380 historic theaters and organizations. The LHAT National Conference is the largest gathering of historic theater professionals in the country, and this year, it was attended by more than 300 historic theater operators and service providers from North America and the United Kingdom.

According to LHAT, the Outstanding Historic Theatre Award “recognizes a theatre that demonstrates excellence through its community impact, quality of programs and services, and quality of the restoration or rehabilitation of its historic structure. An award-winning theatre will have demonstrated excellence through significant achievement, the impact of its services and breadth of populations served, and the length of time and/or intensity of its activities.”

Previous winners have included such renowned venues as New York City Center and The Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

During this year’s conference, Sigel and Curtis Goodwin, the Garde’s director of youth and community engagement, co-presented two educational sessions of “Those People,” the documentary about the New London Talent Show and how it affected the lives of the young people. The documentary was directed by Peter Huoppi of The Day and produced by Huoppi and Goodwin.

Sigel and Goodwin’s presentation at the conference focused on how the Garde and youth arts activists “transformed the community of New London.”

At that session, Tony F. Sias, who is president and CEO of Karamu House in Cleveland, which is the oldest African American theater in America, praised the Garde as a wonderful example of how a historic theater supports and involves youth and underrepresented populations.