I write as a member of the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center board, and as the 11-year music director of the Carolina Master Chorale, to express my passionate enthusiasm, and that of every colleague and arts lover I know in the area, for the creation of the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center.
A cosmopolitan tapestry of talented people in all fields intersects here to create a vibrant place to live, work and play. The hidden jewel in our international reputation is the exquisite level of achievement by local artists across the full spectrum of the fine and performing arts. What we don't have is a common, state of the art facility which can support theater, chamber orchestra, youth symphony, chamber music, choral music, dance recitals, ballet and even America's fastest growing fine arts genre - opera! What we do have is a committed, enthusiastic, newly-reorganized board of responsible, successful, community-minded individuals who all believe that: 1) Myrtle Beach needs a genuine, centrally-located, professionally-equipped performing arts center, and 2) The MBPAC board and the city of Myrtle Beach have the skills, expertise, desire and energy to see it to fruition.
As the MBPAC project is now gaining long overdue attention in the community, there are questions about the facility, the people behind the project and the levels of support in the arts community and the general population. The MBPAC board has undergone a recent overhaul and is moving forward with purpose and direction. Admittedly, there have been struggles in the last several years that coincide with the national economic crisis and the deaths of the last two MBPAC board presidents, Robert Pickett and Rachel Broadhurst. President Pickett presided over the development of early architectural plans by Usry, Wolfe, Peterson, Doyle Architecture Inc., and his successor President Broadhurst saw them to completion while making significant inroads in the project prior to her lengthy disability and untimely death Dec. 10 of last year, just two days after the death of Mr. Pickett.
The new board, under current President Rita Siegal Levine, features a wide spectrum of highly-regarded local leaders, including a notable addition, Penny Boling of Century 21 Boling and Associates, who led the successful campaign to build the beautiful new Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA, and the two sons of Mrs. Broadhurst, committed to seeing their mother's vision to fruition. The board is unified in its commitment to the project. Further, and contrary to previous reports, the board is unanimously delighted to be partnering in this project with the city of Myrtle Beach. We have received excellent feedback from City Council, and we are thrilled that the council has scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. tonight, in rooms 206 and 208 of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, to gauge community support.
Among other positive outcomes, the city, media and public will learn that the arts community is united behind this important project. Having collaborated with more than a dozen local performing arts entities, I know first-hand that colleagues in all of those organizations confirm the need for, and support the creation of, the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center. The MBPAC has been the central goal of the city's Cultural Arts Advisory Committee since its inception more than 20 years ago. That organization spawned the current MBPAC board.
In New York, Lincoln Center offers nightly world-class performances of theater, opera, orchestra, dance, chamber music, choral music and much more. In Washington, audiences flock to the Kennedy Center for the same opportunities. Florence, S.C., now boasts the new Frances Marion Performing Arts Center. It is time for Myrtle Beach to take a major step toward becoming a well-rounded cultural center by supporting the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center. The MBPAC Board looks forward to its presentation to the City Council on Monday evening, and we look forward to greeting a large group of supporters for this extraordinary project.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.