This is a letter I sent to Dr. Moss regarding the Seahawk Cultural Center and the community really needs to understand what is happening because it affects the arts community and the patrons of this community.
Dear Dr. Moss,
As a member of this community and an involved parent in the schools on Hilton Head Island for 20 years, I and many others are very concerned about the decision by the school district to raise the rental fee for the Seahawk Cultural Center almost three times from what it has been.
The SCC, formerly known as the Visual and Performing Arts Center (VPAC), was built by this community with the intention that it was to be a “community” performing arts center AND that Hilton Head High School would be a Performing Arts School of Choice in this District.
That is exactly how it was promoted by the Beaufort County School District in seeking the tax revenue to build the VPAC.
Over the years, it has become what the District sees as a revenue stream rather than its intended purpose – or at least the purpose that was promoted to this community.
There are numerous arts groups that have used this facility over the years – Hilton Head Dance School, Hilton Head Preparatory School, Hilton Head Christian Academy, Main Street Youth Theatre, Hilton Head Choral Society, the Men’s Barbershop and ShoreNotes chorus groups, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bluffton and others.
Many of these groups do not have their own theatre or performing venue. And they operate as nonprofit organizations.
These area arts organizations cannot pay the amount of money to rent the SCC you are now asking. The increase is outrageous and totally ridiculous.
We all understand it takes money to run this facility, but to raise it three times the rate is an aggressive decision. And to charge $125 per hour even for groups loading in and loading out for a production is plain hideous.
It is a slap in the face to this community and its arts organizations who supported the building of this facility years ago.
I hope that you and the school district will reconsider this and look at what the Hilton Head community brings to the schools on Hilton Head Island.
With the School for Creative Arts across the street, the arts programs in ALL the Hilton Head schools, the arts community plays a vital role to enhance and enrich what goes on in these schools each and every day.
The SCC should be a community center to showcase not only our students in the schools but what the community has to offer.
I know the ballet company gives the public school students the opportunity to see a live ballet. Some of the theatre groups offer greatly discounted opportunities for students and teachers to see live theatre.
There are not a lot of places in the country where public school students can experience live ballet or theatre on a regular basis.
This is education!
Phyllis M. Neville is a long-time resident of Hilton Head Island and parent of one former and one current student.