Cultural District Advisory Board Off and Running

21 Feb Cultural District Advisory Board Off and Running

Feb. 20, 2017

City of Beaufort Cultural District Advisory Board up to full strength, sets aggressive workplan toward goals

Completing membership of Beaufort’s Cultural District Advisory Board, the City Council recently added Carol Lauvray, president of the Beaufort History Museum, and named Deborah Johnson as the city administration’s liaison to the board.

Members of the Cultural District Advisory Board will collaboratively promote the city’s cultural assets found in the downtown area for residents and visitors. Working together the group will seek to foster more support for the arts, and celebrate and strengthen local culture and the newly established cultural district.

“It’s great that the Beaufort City Council tackled this final appointment early in the year, and now we are at full strength to approach our work with passion and determination,” said Bonnie Hargrove, chairperson of the advisory board and director of the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts.

“There’s a lot of work to be done! We have so many opportunities here in Beaufort to boost the arts’ role in the lives of area residents and make us an arts destination for visitors,” Hargrove said.

The advisory board’s vision is that by 2020 – just three years away – Beaufort’s downtown will be a recognized and valued cultural district, actively sought out and utilized by artists, merchants, residents and tourists. This concentrated area of diverse cultural venues, activities, and experiences will energize economic growth and improve the quality of life for Beaufort’s community and visitors.

“Our group brings together history and the arts in an amazing way, with a common goal of sharing all our wonderful resources with our local community and visitors,” said Megan Meyer of the Santa Elena History Center. “I think our job really is to teach and offer more exposure to what makes Beaufort such an incredible place.”

The Beaufort City Council named initial members to the Advisory Board in August 2016. The advisory board followed the November 2015 designation of the City of Beaufort as a Cultural District by the South Carolina Arts Commission.

Consistently ranked among American Style Magazine’s Top 25 Small Cities for Art, Beaufort combines southern charm with rich history and a thriving art community. The downtown abounds with opportunities to create, experience, and appreciate all aspects of the cultural arts. More than a dozen art galleries are scattered throughout the district.

By ordinance, the board is to have seven members, six of them appointed by the Beaufort City Council to include a representative from the Beaufort History Museum, Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce/Main Street USA, Historic Beaufort Foundation, Santa Elena History Center and USCB Center for the Arts. The seventh member is to be a city staff person.

“For years we have enjoyed a strong and thriving arts community across Beaufort and the Sea Islands,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said. “The Cultural District Advisory Board’s role is to bring the various groups together to collaborate and cross-market our events, with the goal of making our cultural community even stronger and more vibrant.”

Members of the Beaufort Cultural District Advisory Board are:

· Bonnie Hargrove, USCB Center for the Arts, chair

· Robb Wells, Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce

· Jacque Wedler, Historic Beaufort Foundation

· Megan Meyer, Santa Elena History Center

· Carol Lauvray, Beaufort History Museum

· Deborah Johnson, City of Beaufort liaison.

The new board’s plate is full with the goals of increasing tourism (including promoting the arts through the chambers of commerce and promoting and increasing the number of cultural events within the district); fostering a supportive environment for arts and cultural development; and celebrating and strengthening local culture (including working with the Beaufort City planning staff to identify space for temporary display of outdoor art);:

In its formal application to the Arts Commission, the cultural district task force outlined a “walkable district” for cultural tourists and residents to enjoy. Beaufort’s intermingling of history, arts, and architecture offers something for everyone, Hargrove noted.

There are several tour options, including walking with a professional guide, horse-drawn carriage tours, or a touring van. For the surrounding area there are also island coach tours, boat tours, and kayak tours that showcase the history, heritage, and natural beauty of the coastal Lowcountry.

Dozens of movies have been filmed in the Beaufort area, from Big Chill and Prince of Tides to GI Jane and Rules of Engagement, and movie buffs can identify local settings used in the movies.