Miriam Sitz

In the fall of 2014, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts will open its doors, elevating San Antonio to a whole new level of acoustic, performing, and musical excellence. “We’ll really hear our symphony play for the first time,” countless people have said.

Who is this “we,” though? Does the “we” that will fill up the 1,750 seats of the finely tuned H-E-B Performance Hall realistically include anyone under the age of 50?

Sure, the more seasoned and mature performing arts enthusiasts can hang in the 29 luxury boxes and dazzling founders lounge. Not only do they have the ability to pay, they’re interested in spending their money on seats at the symphony, tickets to the ballet, or a box at the opera.

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But what about those of us with student loans and young families? And how about those of us who couldn’t tell you the difference between Camille Saint-Saëns and Chamillionaire?

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Here’s where the Ghost Light Society comes in. The GLS is a group for young professionals interested in participating in, enjoying, or even just getting to know the performing arts. And “young,” it’s worth mentioning, is a flexible designation. The target age range for the group is 22 to 40ish (that’s a technical term) – but we’re certainly not going to ID any young-at-heart 40+ers who want to join.

Some quick background on the name: a “ghost light” is the single light left illuminated in an otherwise dark, unoccupied theater.” The GLS will serve as a beacon and gathering place for young professionals in this city who want to be involved in the arts in a meaningful way,” said Ellie Leeper, a San Antonio native and the development outreach coordinator for the Tobin Center.

The Nederlander Theatre's ghost light. Photo by Ellie Leeper.
The Nederlander Theatre’s ghost light. Photo by Ellie Leeper.

Under Leeper’s leadership, a group of 13 YPs has formed the founding GLS board. We’ve got bankers and lawyers, tech entrepreneurs, non-profiteers, number-crunchers, actors, small business owners, young corporate leaders, and even a rogue freelance writer.

The common thread? We’re all excited about the prospect of making the SOB (symphony, opera, ballet) and other Tobin Center programming appeal to the younger generation of San Antonians. We want to grow this organization into something that friends are excited to join. We want to ensure that in 30-40 years, when we’re the gray-hairs (with all due respect), support for the performing arts will be just as strong or stronger than it is today.

The inaugural GLS event, a block party, took place on Thursday, Oct. 24, in the shadow of the impressive and nearly-complete Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. More than 250 people attended the block party, and we signed up over 120 new members. Ballet San Antonio, aerial artist Laura DiPasquale, and DJ Pulp provided the entertainment.

Photo by Miriam Sitz.
Ghost Light Society Block Party. Photo by Miriam Sitz.

Membership means paying a paltry $10 a month for exclusive access to regular events. Activities will vary in scale and location, but never substance. They’ll always stay true to the GLS mission of supporting, promoting, and demystifying the performing arts.

The mission of the Ghost Light Society is to encourage a new generation of San Antonians to gather in and around the Tobin Center, to lead its community of young professionals in appreciating and cultivating the performing arts, and to support The Tobin Center and its resident companies now and into the future.

San Antonio doesn’t need another drink-mingle-network group for young professionals. But this city does need a way for YPs to engage with the Tobin Center, this crown jewel of the Alamo City arts scene.

Aerial artist Lauren DiPasquale. Photo by Miriam Sitz.

“One of GLS’s principal goals is to educate our members,” said Rich Reynolds, GLS board president. “Whether you are new to the performing arts or a seasoned patron, we hope you learn something that will enrich your appreciation for the performing arts.”

In November, you can look forward to “Ballet Bar” – an open rehearsal of “The Nutcracker” followed by a members-only cocktail reception. With a holiday party in December, a “Greet the Ghost Light” social in January, and a pre-V-Day soiree planned for February, $10 a month seems like a prudent investment to keep your finger on the pulse of the performing arts in SA.

For more information, visit the GLS page on The Tobin Center Website, or send an email to info@glightsociety.org. 

Ghost Light Society Block Party. Photo by Miriam Sitz.

Miriam Sitz wrote this op-ed acting in her role of Outreach Co-Chair on the Tobin Center Ghost Light Society board. She hopes that you join the GLS, or at least like the GLS on Facebook and follow @TobinCenterGLS on Twitter , Instagram, and Vine.

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Miriam Sitz writes about urbanism, architecture, design, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @MiriamSitz