Thriving communities tend to include opportunities for residents to enjoy cultural and social experiences in shared public spaces.

The Coastal Community Center for the Arts promises to be such a space. We envision it to be the most attractive and effective performing arts center in Southeast Georgia.

When it opens in 2022 on the campus of College of Coastal Georgia, the center will provide significant educational and economic benefits to Glynn County and the greater coastal region along with providing worthwhile cultural, economic and social programming.

A core priority is educational uses to serve myriad needs and interests which maximize the center’s value to the school system and the community. The center will be available to host performing arts local, regional, and statewide K-12 programming in debate, music, speech, theatre, academic competitions and arts advocacy.

The center will provide Glynn County schools with state-of-the-art performance space. The offerings will enhance the lives of College of Coastal Georgia students and employees, as well. The 1,000-seat hall will have professional-level acoustics and adequate backstage and storage space.

The expansion of cultural offerings for our residents and visitors will be significant in the areas of music, concert and dance performances, lectures, meetings and other community events.

Additionally, the center will attract county residents, regional citizens, and visitors to Brunswick for performances and other uses. Visitors will stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and visit our shops. During the anticipated 15 months of construction, there will be employment opportunities for city and county residents.

On March 1, funds from the current education special local option sales tax (ESPLOST) will be available to begin design. The ESPLOST funds include $20 million for design and construction. John Tuten, the architect for the Glynn County Board of Education, will design the center. Construction funds become available on March 1, 2021.

This project is the product of considerable collaboration between the school board, College and broader community. Almost three years ago, early in my current term on the board of the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation, I was asked to chair the Center for the Arts Committee.

In addition to 14 fellow members of the Foundation, the evolving committee now includes stakeholders from Glynn County, including representatives from the local arts community, City of Brunswick, Coastal Symphony of Georgia, Glynn County Commissioners, Glynn County School Board, Glynn County School administrators and faculty, Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association, Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Golden Isles Youth Orchestra.

On Dec. 3, the committee hosted a forum on the college campus. The event was covered by the local press allowing readers unable to attend to learn about the vision for the center. Forums will continue to be held to mark milestones in the evolution of the center.

The college will be responsible for operating the center. Ongoing operating costs will be covered primarily by ticket sales, space rentals and a Friends of the center philanthropic program.

For the first 30 years of operation, the center building will belong to the school system. The facility then will be transferred to the University System of Georgia.

The studied approach to date has included visits to performing arts centers on college and university campuses, to stand-alone facilities funded by local governments and the private sector as well as one high school of national note for its community performing arts space of similar size.

The Georgia Board of Regents approved the plan in November. An intergovernmental agreement is being developed to expand upon the Memorandum of Understanding between the University System and Glynn County Board of Education.

The Coastal Community Center for the Arts will provide an important piece in creating the kind of community we all want the Golden Isles to be – a place with a thriving economy and cultural life.

Don Myers, after a career in academic fundraising, is retired and resides on St. Simons with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at dandsmyers@bellsouth.net.

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