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"Arts and culture are the expressions of a community's heart and soul. Together they form an image that sets the city apart and creates anticipation and excitement for the resident and traveler."
-Americans for the Arts
Myrtle Beach might be best known for its beautiful beaches and challenging golf courses, but its heart and soul lie in the city's burgeoning cultural community. Despite significant obstacles, local arts organizations have flourished over the past decades, developing a strong cultural identity while growing audiences. Myrtle Beach is now at a cultural crossroads, with the opportunity to give its residents and visitors what every thriving community across our country enjoys: a recognizable cultural center and a place for local arts organizations to call home.
Recognizing the importance of a diverse cultural dimension to a community's identity and economic growth, Myrtle Beach city leaders incorporated the construction of a performing arts center into the current comprehensive plan. The MBPAC, a nonprofit organization, was chartered to oversee the construction and operation of a world-class venue. To commence construction, the MBPAC must now secure $2.5 million in private funds; the City of Myrtle Beach has committed the balance of $7.1 million in public funding.
A Performing Arts Center is Crucial to Myrtle Beach's Future
"One of my clients was poised to purchase a $1 million home in Myrtle Beach. Once she realized the city's limited cultural offerings, she chose Charleston instead."
-Myrtle Beach Real Estate Agent
A performing arts center the caliber of the proposed MBPAC will be a catalyst, immediately diversifying Myrtle Beach's community profile while putting Myrtle Beach on the cultural map. With an orchestra pit-the only one in the region-highly acclaimed national touring acts will finally be able to perform on the Grand Strand. Residents and visitors will be able to stay in Myrtle Beach to see a wide range of exceptional classical, ballet and popular performances.
The MBPAC will also provide the first permanent home for local arts organization that today can only perform in schools and churches. Because these performing arts groups cannot associate themselves with a building, local audiences and area visitors have difficulties finding them. So significant is a performance venue to these organizations that many expect to see their audiences double and triple within five years of completion.
"Every one of Myrtle Beach's performing arts groups has need for a quality performance space."
-2006 Feasibility Study
Educational opportunities for area students will also be significantly enhanced by a new performing arts center. Through field trips to matinees and outreach programs with visiting artists, the MBPAC will provide enormous opportunities for curriculum development and standards of learning enhancement. Summer camps will provide an additional link to families and engage a future audience of arts enthusiasts.
The Arts: A Wise Investment
Myrtle Beach residents and visitors have demonstrated a strong interest in enhanced cultural opportunities. The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach has seen a 13% growth in attendance since it opened in 1997.
With exhibits by notable artists including Ansel Adams, John James Audubon, and Jasper Johns, the art museum has developed a devoted audience, with a 30% repeat visitation rate. The Long Bay Symphony has seen similar growth in its subscriber base and in its stature. Famed American Idol Music Director Michael Orland attended a Carolina Master Chorale performance and remarked, "My friends and I are still talking about how blown away we were today by that concert we saw. Very impressive!"
Features of the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center|
- State-of-the-art 843-seat theatre with balcony, stage, wing space, and an expanded orchestra pit as well as a formal lobby and large rehearsal stage.
- Ideal for professional and student theatre, music, dance, and visual arts organizations across the region, as well as for national touring acts.
- Myrtle Beach's only orchestra pit, a requirement for acclaimed national performances.
- Located adjacent to the City of Myrtle Beach Convention Center, providing adequate infrastructure and the opportunity for conventions to utilize the space.
- Black box theatre for smaller productions, rehearsals, movie showings, or meetings.
- Exterior Whale Promenade for outdoor events.
- Visual arts exhibition space.
A Cultural Arts Advisory Committee, together with the City's Planning Department, conducted focus groups to gauge community support for a performance venue; the support they discovered was overwhelming. Strengthening these findings, a 2006 feasibility study by a national arts research firm concluded that there was above average demand for theatre performances in Myrtle Beach.
Once constructed, the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center will immediately impact the local economy, as well as the arts community. The new Center is expected to funnel $7.8 million directly into the Myrtle Beach economy each year; patrons will spend an additional $3.3 million annually in Myrtle Beach hotels, restaurants, and shops. Essentially, the new center will more than pay for itself in the first year alone.
Capitalizing on Cultural Tourism
An arts dimension will also provide an additional draw for the tourism industry, particularly as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age. Cultural tourists, a rapidly growing segment of the travel industry, are a lucrative market, spending 27% more than regular tourists. The profile of a cultural tourist-someone who is more likely to be retired, has a greater disposable income and enjoys golf and shopping-mirrors that of Myrtle Beach's existing tourist base.
Area arts organizations are already capitalizing on cultural tourism. Each year, the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum attracts visitors from all 50 states-60% of all museum visitors live more than 50 miles from Myrtle Beach. Similarly, 80% of the Carolina Master Chorale's subscriber base lives outside Myrtle Beach.
A performing arts space will enable the city to access this profitable market by offering the broad-based cultural opportunities this segment demands. It will further attract day visitors from Wilmington, Pawleys Island, Litchfield, and Florence to come for a performance and stay to shop and dine.
MBPAC's Distinguished History and Committed Leadership
The Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center project was born when a group of arts patrons seeking a sophisticated performance space sought to renovate the 1958 Rivoli Theatre. The project quickly grew in scope and importance as community leaders recognized the region's need for a world-class performance venue. The City of Myrtle Beach purchased the Rivoli Theatre to use for this project.
Once Asbestos was found throughout the building, community leaders decided to seek a more prominent location and build a new facility from the ground up adjacent to the Convention Center. The nonprofit organization overseeing the project changed its name from the Rivoli Theatre Group to the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center to better convey the range and caliber of performances the center will host.
Local Organizations, National and International Performing Groups Likely to Use the MBPAC
Carolina Master Chorale
Long Bay Symphony
Long Bay Chamber Orchestra
Carolina Improv Company
Litchfield Dance Company
Long Bay Youth Orchestra
Vienna Boys Choir
Glenn Miller Orchestra
Moscow Festival Ballet
Tango Buenos Aires
The City of Myrtle Beach, also recognizing the community's need for a professional performance venue, has been a staunch supporter of the project. Together, the City and the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center have forged a dynamic public/private partnership to ensure the project's success.
A strong Board of Directors, comprised of some of Myrtle Beach's most influential business and community leaders as well as important arts supporters, is poised to ensure the project's success. The MBPAC hired its first Executive Director in 2009 to lead the project and launch a capital campaign to raise private funds for the center. Usry, Wolfe, Peterson, and Doyle Architecture was commissioned to design the building.
The Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center will open in 2013. Through a partnership with the adjacent Convention Center, the PAC is expected to be self-sufficient within its first year. The Center will showcase high profile national and international acts as well as the best of the region's performing arts groups. The new Performing Arts Center will usher in a new era for the Grand Strand community, enriching the city's heart and soul and ensuring a vibrant future for Myrtle Beach.