Arts center

Letter | Myrtle Beach arts center funding decision won’t serve bulk of residents, visitors

May 18, 2014 

A while back Myrtle Beach and the performing arts community discussed a possible partnership. The arts community would fund $2.5 million and Myrtle Beach would then assist the arts to build an arts center.

The arts community failed and did not have the support or funds for this partnership. With politics in hand, the arts community has now asked Myrtle Beach to fund the whole performing arts center. Myrtle Beach is looking for the taxpayers (business and residents) to pony up $10 million for the performing arts center.

Two years ago a referendum vote was called for to help city council decide the arts center fate. The referendum passed 1,915 to 1,641. For a city of 30,000 this is not a large mandate. One would suspect all of the arts community did vote. Could one suspect council hiding behind this vote to approve the arts center?

Who would attend the new arts center performances?

• Tourists? No, they are more interested in the Carolina Opry, beach and restaurant buffets. Their suits would be bathing rather than coat and tie. This is not negative, just who we are.

• Residents? No, our Grand Strand has the lowest wages in the nation for an area its size. Many are laid off in the fall and re-hired in the spring. We work two part-time jobs rather then full time jobs. Negative? No, just who we are.

• Out of town people? No, Kingstree, Georgetown and Loris are having enough economic issues, let alone the price of an arts center ticket, parking and gas. Conway has a wonderful little theater that I highly recommend.

Who will pay for the performing arts center?

• Corporate donations? Any thriving arts center must have a vibrant corporate donation pool. How many millions have Myrtle Beach corporations donated?

• City budget? Myrtle Beach is thinking about charging $125 to go to the library. A 2.8 percent rate increase for water and sewer. Solid waste fees up $29 a year.

“Given the bad news on the general operating funds we are all going to have to make some pretty hard decisions this budget year,” city manager Tom Leath said.

• Local business? They have no say whether we have a new arts center or not, but will pay twice as much to support it. This will be one more tax that must be passed through to our tourists and apartment renters.

I am not against performing arts. I volunteered for five years with the Richmond, Va.. arts center. Myrtle Beach is just not an arts center community. At one time Myrtle Beach told the arts community to “show me the money.” That must not change.

Myrtle Beach has many needs for funds that will help a majority of its residents. Should the arts center have priority over other needs? Who and how many will benefit from this arts center? The city wants 20 more police officers, which were left out of the budget. Arts center or 20 police officers? Not a hard choice for me, Tom. But I’m not political.

We boast of the best boardwalk. Do we need the arts center so we can boast we have the best arts center too?

So much money for a very small group of residents. Smells like politics to this taxpayer.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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