Disregarding a consultant’s recommendation, the Hilton Head Island Venue Committee wants the town to continue researching an option for a large performing arts venue on the island.
Last month, the consultant, Duncan Webb of Webb Management Services, presented his proposals to the committee including a recommendation to build an off-island performing arts hall seating about 1,500 people. He told the committee then that the island by itself couldn’t provide enough events to support a large venue.
But the committee didn’t accept that recommendation at its meeting Thursday. The majority instead decided that more research was needed about locating a facility on the island.
“If he (Webb) strongly feels like Hilton Head is not the right place, we need to understand why,” said Town Councilwoman Kim Likins, a committee member. “I think to be more open-minded is all we are looking for.”
But other committee members disagreed.
“We sort of had all these questions in the very beginning,” said Rex Garniewicz, president and CEO of the Coastal Discovery Museum, located on the island. “The consultant’s opinion was — it should be off-island. Are we going to ask them to look at this a second time?”
Island resident Frank Mangani also raised concerns about more research.
“I think you need to rethink this recommendation,” he told the committee. “He (Webb) was quite firm when he said it should not be on Hilton Head Island, based on his knowledge and input.”
Webb, who was hired by the town, said at a committee meeting last month that an off-island facility could be supported by other regional organizations.
“The island would provide maybe 100 days of activity coming from different organizations, such as the symphony,” Webb said then. “One hundred days isn’t enough.”
When created about a year ago, the Venue Committee was charged with making recommendations about improving the arts and culture on the island. It was asked to complete its work by the end of 2016, which didn’t happen.
Although it didn’t accept Webb’s recommendation about the performing arts facility, the committee on Thursday approved other proposals by the consultant. They included recommendations that:
▪ Webb prepare options for a 5,000-person outdoor event space.
▪ Webb work with town officials and the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on a partnership plan.
▪ Webb work with the Mitchelville Project and Coastal Discovery Museum to create common goals.
▪ The town’s Vision Committee consultant explore ways to enhance food culture on the island.
If the Venue Committee’s recommendations are approved by the town’s Community Services Committee, they will go before the Town Council on June 6.