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New theater hopes to shine a light in Benton Harbor community

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. –

A new theater in Benton Harbor is hoping to shine a light in the community. 

The GhostLight Theatre is now getting ready to start renovations on a building in the Benton Harbor Arts District. The founders of the theater, Paul Mow and Martha Hesse, say they hope to transform the building that has stood empty for decades into a modern black-box style theater building. 

“There are so many opportunities for the community to get involved here,” said Hesse. 

She added that the space would not only serve the community by bringing plays, but can also be used as a space to draw people together through workshops, summer camps or meetings. The goal is to illuminate the arts and culture in the Arts District. 

“GhostLight we thought was a great metaphor for reinvigorating these buildings and this district and bringing light back here,” said Hesse. “And of course, the reference to ghost in an empty building, you know, the buildings been empty for decades, so we thought it was just a good metaphor."

Hesse added that the community support for the project has been overwhelming. A capital campaign in August raised $150,000 in just a few days. The theater also just received a $7,000 grant last week from the Berrien Community Foundation. 

"This is really going to bring an opportunity for partnerships, for collaborations, for people to come to downtown Benton harbor and spend an evening in Benton harbor and I think that's a great thing for the community as a whole," said Lisa Cripps-Downey, the president of the Berrien Community Foundation.  

Renovations are starting as early as next week. Hesse says they plan to start working on the sound system and lighting next March, with the theater officially planning to open its doors in May of 2019. 

More information on the project can be found here.

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