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Welcome to Wollongong’s Home of the Performing Arts

Switching off the ‘ghost light’

A commitment to do better

Traditionally, when a theatre will be empty for some time, a single illuminated light is left on the stage. In practical terms this is for safety, but in theatre lore it is to light the space for the ghosts who inevitably haunt every theatre. The IPAC ‘ghost light’ was lit on March 18 2020.  On 15 October 2020, after seven long months, we invited our staff, board, volunteers, artists, community partners and supporters to join us for a small ceremony to switch off the ghost light.

A commitment to do better

As difficult as this seven month period has been for Merrigong, it has provided us with a rare opportunity to think about what we might do differently when the time finally came to once again invite audiences into our theatres.

This global crisis has brought into focus underlying societal and sector fault lines. The unexpected pause in the normal rhythms of work and life has delivered a point of clarity that returning to “business as usual” is neither possible nor desirable.

The question burning in our minds at Merrigong over these months has been: How do we do better?

So we’ve been engaging in a process of consultation and discussion, asking our team of board, staff and volunteers, our audience, our artists, our community, to help us answer three questions:

How do we do better for our community?
How do we do better for our artists?
How do we do better for our team?

Read Merrigong’s commitment to our community, our artists, and our staff:
Switching off the ‘ghost light’ – A commitment to do better

By sharing our commitments, we are inviting you to be part of the conversation, and to hold us accountable to honouring them.

Snippets from the event

Held in the IMB Theatre, Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Thursday 15 October.

With guest artists Ethan Green (The Strangeways Ensemble), Daryl Wallis & Jacqui Dark (performing Torchlight by Missy Higgins), and Emily Crocker, performing her poem BEHOLD (Switching off the ghost light).

Thank you

For Merrigong to get through this extraordinary year more or less intact it has taken some serious work and some serious support from others. While the next couple of years may well be challenging for all arts companies, and we’re not out of the woods just yet, I would like to acknowledge the additional support received from the Federal and State Governments, as well as the ongoing support of Wollongong City Council. I’d also like to thank our permanent staff, who spent several months on reduced pay. And finally, a huge thank you to the 280 individuals in our community who have made tax deductible donations to Merrigong, collectively contributing more than $40,000 since March 2020 to ensure Merrigong continued operating.

My sincere thanks,

Simon Hinton
Artistic Director / CEO

Simon Hinton

Simon Hinton in the IMB Theatre auditorium, Illawarra Performing Arts Centre

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