Greenville County Council will consider appropriating a half million dollars of local hospitality tax money for the South Carolina Children’s Theatre’s planned new performance, education and administrative center on Augusta Street.
According to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, Council members will consider earmarking $100,000 of local hospitality tax money per year for five years beginning with the 2017 fiscal year.
The Children’s Theatre plans to build a $10 million 34,000-square-foot facility that includes a 300-seat theater, a separate Second Stage space, education classrooms and a large lobby.
Groundbreaking is expected in January 2018.
The theater has “an exciting but limited window of opportunity” to build a new facility next door to its current headquarters thanks to Josephine Cureton, a longtime Children’s Theatre supporter who said in her will she wanted her 125-year-old Victorian house demolished and her property turned into the Children’s Theatre’s new home, SCCT Executive Director Debbie Bell has said.
The Children’s Theatre stages its Main Stage productions in the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. For its smaller-scale Second Stage shows, it transforms the back of the metal building that houses its administrative offices into a “stage.”
SCCT officials said about 43,000 people experienced or participated in Children’s Theatre activities last year. The theater has outgrown its leased space and demand for programming and performances continues to increase, Bell said. With a new facility, the theater’s capacity for performances would increase by 40 percent, Bell said. Education programs could grow by 30 percent and outreach programs by 25 percent.
More than half of those who attend SCCT’s Main Stage productions live outside the City of Greenville, many from Spartanburg, Anderson, Pickens, Oconee and Laurens counties.
The Greenville City Council has promised the theater $1.5 million in hospitality funds over five years for the project.