For Weekly SurgeOctober 29, 2013 

If you live within Myrtle Beach city limits, chances are good that you received an elegant cardstock mailer urging you to vote “yes” to fund construction of the much-touted Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center. The verbiage on the card is compelling: “The proposed performing arts center addition onto the Myrtle Beach Convention Center will raise the curtain on cultural activity downtown,” it reads. “It’s the kind of versatile venue that will be an asset for area performing groups – from elementary schools to colleges to professionals. Your vote will also economically boost area hotels, restaurants and businesses.” And if you didn’t get a mailer, you might have seen one of the digital billboards on U.S. 17 Bypass heralding the same thing.

The initiative made it onto Tuesday’s (Nov. 5) ballot as the only referendum at this time, and it is up to voters who live within Myrtle Beach city limits to decide whether or not the City of Myrtle Beach can issue up to $10 million in bonds for this project. A blurb on the referendum sums up the intent: “As general obligation bonds, the city will repay the money from property tax revenue. It is estimated that an additional 2.5 mills of property tax will be required to fund the debt service” on the bond issue. In the simplest terms laid out in the document, and per $100 thousand dollars of market value, this translates into $10 for owner-occupied residential property assessed at four percent, $15 for non-owner occupied residential property and commercial property assesses at six per cent, and $26.25 for manufacturing and utility property assessed at 10.5 percent. This also impacts personal property, per $20,000 of market value - $3 for automobiles and $5.25 for other property, like boats for example.

The projected 35,000-square-foot complex would house an auditorium of 500-to-600 fixed seats with a fully-equipped performance stage and orchestra pit along with a smaller black box theater.

The prospect of a centralized, multi-use performing arts venue in the heart of Myrtle Beach is loaded with possibilities and is something that is near and dear to local businessman and Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center [MBPAC] board member, Jamie Broadhurst. His late mother, Rachel Broadhurst, was a pivotal figure in the formation of the Rivoli Theatre Group, which over time became the MBPAC. Weekly Surge recently had a conversation with Jamie Broadhurst about the project.

QUESTION | Looking at the referendum and the proposed tax increase to pay back the bonds, the price tag per capita seems like a small price to pay when you look at the end goal?

ANSWER | I agree – but we are all very aware of the fact that raising taxes for any reason is not something that has any huge impact within the community. But the taxes and the revenues they create are for the betterment of our lives and for the betterment of our communities. We feel that this project fits into that context: It is completely for the betterment of not only of our economy – but of our lifestyle and well-being as a community. To have a facility that can encompass so many creative and cultural arts aspects under one roof in a centrally-located area would be a godsend for our community. It’s something we’ve never had. It is in the City of Myrtle Beach – yes – but it’s something that will service the entire Grand Strand. It would be a great facility for anybody in the area.

Q. | We know that there are pockets of culture everywhere on the Grand Strand, but it seems fragmented, especially for tourists who are looking for venues and events, do you agree?

A. | Our cultural community is fragmented because we go from Georgetown County to Little River. We run a full gamut of cultural activity in 65 miles of area. It’s not easy to encompass all of those things.

Q. | The referendum is not binding. What does that mean?

A. | In the event that we are successful in obtaining the number of votes that we need for a positive outcome, it still does not obligate the city to admit the bonding. However, I think that city officials would be a little hard-pressed not to follow the lead of the word of the people.

Q. | How do you feel locals will take to the MPBAC if it becomes a reality?

A. | I was thinking this morning after receiving some campaign material from city politicians that discuss funding for tourism, tourism, and tourism. This is great because our city's economy is tourism driven, however all great communities have a great cultural base. Do our residents not deserve an initiative that will not only enhance the economy but will enhance their well-being and the quality of their lives? To grow as a city, we need to offer different things. Look at it from a business perspective: You know how many people we have here from large metropolitan areas. They miss and desire some things that they had at home. I don’t think we’ll be NYC – but I think we are capable of offering great shows and theatre for our residents.

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