Legislature overrides governor’s veto of $500,000 for Children’s Theatre

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New South Carolina Children's Theatre campus. Renderings by Craig Gaulden Davis

State legislators have overridden Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto of a half million dollars for the South Carolina Children’s Theatre.

SCCT Executive Director Debbie Bell said the money will support the theater’s new $12.8 million headquarters that will include a 300-seat main-stage theater, a smaller second-stage space, education classrooms, and administrative space. The new facility will allow the theater to grow its educational and outreach programs, she said.

“The funds are crucial to the continued growth of the Children’s Theatre,” Bell said. “By expanding our facility, we can grow our programs.”

The House overrode the veto by a 93-25 vote. The Senate overrode the veto by a 36-5 vote.

Bell said the SCCT serves about 50,000 children and adults each year.

Bell said state Rep. Dwight Loftis was instrumental in getting the money included in the budget and the SCCT has been working with members of the Greenville County Legislative Delegation to get the veto overturned.

“[Loftis] saw we’re so much more than a performing theater,” said Bell, who added that state Reps. Bruce Bannister, Brian White, and Chandra Dillard, and Sens. William Timmons, Ross Turner, and Karl Allen were champions of the funding, as well.

Loftis said he pushed for the funding because of what the SCCT does outside of its main-stage performances.

“The Children’s Theatre is much more than performances on stage, as beneficial as that is,” he said. “It’s not just a theatrical thing for rich kids as somebody had labeled it.”

Loftis said that in addition to performances on its stages, SCCT works in schools to help improve literacy, develop soft skills, and prevent bullying. The SCCT works in more than 70 schools in 12 counties in the Upstate and Midlands.

When the new facility is complete in late 2019 or early 2020, SCCT will be able to add a technical-theater curriculum, provide additional opportunities for middle and high school students, provide sensory-friendly performances for autistic children, and have additional American Sign Language-interpreted performances, Bell said.

“We are thankful that South Carolina legislators support the type of educational programs we provide to more than 50,000 children and their families every year,” she said.

 

 

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