Associated Press

MYRTLE BEACH, - Myrtle Beach residents have approved spending $10 million for a new city performing arts center. Now the question is where to find the money to operate it.

The Sun News reports that voters last November supported a referendum allowing the city to purchase bonds to build the center at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Now, members of the arts community are working with the city staff to determine how much it will cost to operate the 35,000-square-foot center, and it's expected they will reach an agreement to share the costs.

Later this month, a budget for the center is expected to be presented to city council, which will then discuss it at the council's annual budget retreat.

"How are we going to pay for the operating piece?" city manager Tom Leath said. "We're trying to get some good, solid operating numbers together."

Members of the arts community have worked for 15 years to bring a performing arts venue to the city. Penny Boling, co-chairwoman of the performing arts board, is confident the arts community can raise money to help operate the facility.

"We cannot go out and raise funds or get sponsorships, donations and pledges until we get the stamp of approval" from the council, Boling said.

Although voters approved the referendum, that does not obligate the city to building the performing arts center. The referendum was simply needed to exceed the city debt limit set by the state.

The proposed venue would have an auditorium of about 600 fixed seats with a stage, as well as a second, smaller theater with as many as 120 seats.