Main Stage Community Theatre is multitasking for the future. While its board of directors is working on plans for the 2021 season, it is also working on fundraising for a performing arts center that the theatre will share with Live Oak Community Church.

The new structure, Live Oak Performing Arts Center, will be on property the church owns on State Street near the post office in Bluffton Village.

Known as the Main Street Youth Theatre for years, the organization’s name was recently changed. Daniel Cort, the theatre’s vice chairman and a member of the Live Oak church, said the original name was limiting the theatre’s ability to grow and expand with the changing world.

“We’re establishing a very focused and intentional campaign with the hope that our community sees the logic behind it, especially as it relates to our new home and location,” he said.

All promotions will be prefaced with “formerly Main Street Youth Theatre” for at least the first year. One of those promotions was scheduled to be an oyster roast with Shannon Tanner for February, but has been postponed.

“The board of directors felt the responsible decision was to postpone the live event,” said theatre board chair Cinda Seamon. “While we all patiently wait for things to get back to normal, the show must go on. The construction costs are not insignificant, and we cannot do this alone. By coming together as a community, we can build this new home for everyone to enjoy.”

Cort said the plans for groundbreaking have been delayed by eight to 10 months due to COVID-19, but the preparations have continued.

“Plans have evolved beautifully, with architectural designs about 90% complete,” he said. “All indicators point to a ground breaking in early summer.”

In the meantime, social media will play a big part in keeping the theatre in the public eye.

“We will continue to have a strong presence on Facebook with videos clips, photos and promos,” said Seamon. “Hopefully through our posts, many people will recognize former shows and be able to make the connection.”

In addition to Seamon and Cort challenging board members to come up with creative videos to attract attention, there is ample opportunity for the community to get involved in supporting the theatre company in its One Home Campaign.

Cort said there are plans for a very large concert or celebration-style event for late spring or early summer, with potential Broadway legends as headliners and local star Shannon Tanner.

“Our new mission statement says it all: ‘Engage the artist in anyone, inspire the arts in Everyone,’” Cort said. “Our job is to inspire folks to explore whatever it is that enriches their soul. It takes a community to build this and it will be a community that grows it.”

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Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.