With all due respect to David Bennett's recent statement that funds could be raised for a concert hall venue from private sources, I must question his understanding and experience in raising funds for nonprofit organizations on Hilton Head Island.
Living here full-time for 16 years and working for the last five years to raise funds for the arts and other nonprofits without the presence of large foundations or corporations, it has been extremely challenging for all arts and nonprofit organizations, even when the economy has been doing well.
Our residents are very generous, but private funding for a concert hall without substantial public funding would be optimistic even for a town 10 times our size. It has taken us more than 18 years to raise $20.5 million in private funding for the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, an outstanding accomplishment. But that is less than the cost of a concert hall, much less building an arts campus as has been suggested, which could cost $60 million to $80 million or more.
An 1,100-1,200 seat concert hall would cost from $21 million to $40 million excluding land costs and $1 million to $2 million per year to operate. Consider the costs that Bennett's hometown (Carmel, Ind.) spent on its arts center complex -- more than twice its budget of $80 million and, according to the local paper, with over $175 million and $2 million per year of taxpayer support.
Richard N. Speer, Jr.
Hilton Head Island