Positive message beamed out to community

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The message “stay home, stay safe” has become a common mantra during the COVID-19 pandemic, coming to citizens and prospective travellers through official statements and social media campaigns.

Those who happened to be out and about in Ganges during the evening in recent weeks may have noticed an unusual venue for those now familiar words, with a special installation decorating the Hereford Avenue side of the Salt Spring Inn. Marketing consultant and former theatre technician Graham Likeness is responsible for projecting the image, which took place from dusk to 11 p.m. from April 28 through May 18.

“My wife and I have lived here for five years, and I wanted to find a way to give back to the community,” said Likeness. (His wife is Deborah Osborne, a film and TV producer and veteran stage manager of the Shaw and Stratford theatre festivals.)

Likeness knew one of the manufacturers he works with was creating a means of projecting the message of hope and he wanted to make use of it. Having taught theatre lighting in earlier years, he explained the device known as a “gobo” is commonly used to convey a setting without having to construct an extensive set for what may be a short scene. A template or stencil placed over the light source controls the shape of the light cast onto the stage. In this case the image, which included a heart logo as well as the text, was etched into glass, although more simple stencils can also be used.

Finding a suitable location to project the image was a considerable challenge that required both a receiving space and a secure area to house the projector. After much searching, Likeness determined the Salt Spring Inn had the right wall, and the Salt Spring Physiotherapy office across the street would be perfect for the projector. The owners of both locales were gracious in granting permission while their businesses were closed to the public.

“I had a very enthusiastic response from [physiotherapist] Dan Spiess. I had to take the projector down last Monday because he was getting ready to open the physiotherapy office again, but he was very kind in his support and said it was a very noble cause, which I thought was a nice way of putting it,” Likeness said.

While not many people were likely wandering the streets of Ganges at night over the past months, Likeness said he did hear good feedback both directly from people at the site and indirectly from hospital workers. He is on the team who recently made and donated face guards to local first responders and other caregivers.

“It looks like people were heeding the advice, staying home and staying safe and to not get too complacent too soon. I think we’re getting better about it, but we still have to be aware that a second wave is probably coming,” Likeness said.

While finding one workable location was difficult enough, Likeness said he would be interested in projecting a new message if anyone has any ideas for a new space. He can be reached at glikeness@me.com.

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