The marquee at the State Theater reads “Vaccines are a gateway drug to concerts,” on Monday. The message, put up a week earlier, has gotten attention on social media from famous musicians. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

A message that a State Theatre employee put up on the Portland concert venue’s marquee last week is getting attention on social media after a photo of it was shared by famous musicians, including Billy Bragg and Sinead O’Connor.

Kevin Norsworthy, an administrative assistant tasked with managing the highly visible marquee on Congress Street, said the message, “Vaccines are a gateway drug to concerts,” came to him “on a whim” while he was changing out the letters on May 17.

British singer-songwriter and activist Bragg, popular since the 1980s for his protest songs, shared a black-and-white photo of the marquee with the caption “Thought for the Day” Saturday on social media platforms, including Twitter, where it had been liked more than 21,000 times and retweeted by more than 4,700 people as of midday Monday.

O’Connor, the Irish artist who reached the height of her fame in the ’90s, shared the photo Saturday from her personal Twitter account, MagdaDavitt77, where it’s racking up hundreds of likes and thousands of retweets, and singer-songwriter Cat Power shared it on her Instagram account, to which Flaming Lips singer Wayne Coyne responded with eight heart emojis.

“We are obviously thrilled it’s gone viral and that people agree with the concept and messaging, and if it encourages people who might be on the fence of getting a vaccine to actually get it, then goal accomplished,” said Lauren Wayne, general manager of the State.

Norsworthy, who doesn’t know who took or originally posted the photo, said the response to his message has been a source of positivity for him and the entire State Theatre staff.

“It means that a lot of people are seeing us and feeling good about it,” he said. “I have a strong sense of pride for this venue because I enjoy it myself so much, and it’s such an important part of our community.”

State Theatre has been closed since March 2020 because of the pandemic, but with capacity limits and distancing requirements lifted Monday, the venue has started booking shows for this summer. The first on the schedule is Melissa Etheridge on Aug. 31, followed by They Might Be Giants on Sept. 3.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.