Politics & Government

Public’s plea to Hilton Head arts venue panel: Keep us in the loop

Hilton Head residents pack into Java Burrito Thursday to ask questions about a possible Hilton Head art venue.
Hilton Head residents pack into Java Burrito Thursday to ask questions about a possible Hilton Head art venue.

About 50 people packed Java Burrito in search of answers about a possible Hilton Head Island arts venue during the the first public forum Thursday.

Many residents asked for transparency from the town’s arts venue committee.

“All I see is the town spending $200,000 for another consultant,” resident George Minot said. “That is the same old story.”

The committee started the process of interviewing five consulting firms Thursday. The selected firm is expected to collect and interpret data along with providing expertise on costs and venue options.

If you give the jury the right info they will make the right decision.

George Minot, Hilton Head resident

Minot asked the committee to share data and information publicly as it receives it.

“If you give the jury the right info, they will make the right decision,” Minot said.

Jane Joseph, venue committee vice chairman, said data is already being posted on the town’s website at www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov. She also added that all meetings are open to the public.

Other attendees offered suggestions or opinions.

“Why not do this in conjunction with Bluffton?” resident Diane K. Anderson asked. “It is easier to reach and has more opportunity for a location.”

Town Councilwoman Kim Likins, a committee member, said the committee was formed specifically to look at arts venue options on the island.

“That doesn’t mean we aren’t open at looking at all the options,” Likins said. “I can’t tell you that the recommendation won’t be that there are not enough options on the island.”

The Town Council set up the committee last year and charged it with making a recommendation on a venue by the end of December. If passed, a Nov. 8 Beaufort County referendum could provide $6 million for a venue via a sales tax increase.

Lorraine Berry, co-owner of Legendary Golf, said the town should look at utilizing already constructed park spaces to hold events and festivals.

“We have spent the money and done the work already,” Berry said. “I suggest you find a location with a streamline of visitors and ask them what they want, because they are not coming here for the arts. They are coming for the foundation (Charles) Fraser built — beauty, beaches and family, family, family.”

Daniel Brock, town spokesman, said turn-out for the event was better than expected. He said it was the right step toward two-way communication.

“The committee was able to address misconceptions and hear concerns that they can bring back to committee meetings,” Brock said.

More events will be held throughout the community in upcoming months, Brock said.

Teresa Moss: 843-706-8152, @TeresaIPBG