Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.

Questions surround possible community arts facility in Mount Pleasant

old village playhouse

The Village Playhouse, now Village Repertory Co., used to be located on Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant but moved to a new location in downtown Charleston in 2012. 

A community arts center could be coming to Mount Pleasant, though questions remain about where the center would be located and what purpose it would serve—whether it would be a full-blown performing arts space or a space to develop and support the arts.

Bringing a full performance space to Mount Pleasant is a long process, one that is not out of the question for the town. But as for whether it’s on the table for the near future, Mayor Will Haynie said there’s been a misunderstanding about what the community arts center will be.

“We have been talking about a community art center to develop the arts, not a performing arts center,” Haynie said. “We never approved funding for a performing arts center. We approved funding last April for a community arts center.”

There seemed to be many conflicting ideas about this at the March 14 town council meeting, where discussion and possible action related to options for the community arts facility appeared on the agenda. Residents urged the council to consider transforming the old Pivotal Fitness site at the Plaza at East Cooper Shopping Center on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard into a performing center.

During the March 6 Health, Recreation and Events Committee, staff presented committee members with three potential options for the community arts space: leasing an existing property, constructing a new facility or weaving it into the Rifle Range Road project, funded by the $50 million recreation referendum.

The town never officially released the properties they considered leasing for the community arts space — the former gym space or a smaller space on North Highway 17 — though residents advocated for the use of the larger space at the March 14 meeting.

Keely Enright, who serves on the town’s Recreation Advisory Commission and is the founding artistic director of the Village Repertory Company, said this space would allow for studios, workshops and a stage. Several residents echoed the desire to bring a performing space to the town.

“It's centrally located in the community,” Enright said. “There would be a space for rehearsal, classrooms, a workshop space as well, almost like an art gallery that would be available in the space, plus flexible space for theater and music and dance.”

Mount Pleasant does not have a performing arts center within the town, leaving fans of theatre and dance crossing the bridge into downtown Charleston to catch a show. The Village Playhouse, now known as The Village Repertory Company, was located in Mount Pleasant for 11 years before moving to Woolfe Street downtown.

Enright said the loss of the playhouse has left a void. The recreation department will hold classes and clubs, but Enright said the community is looking for something more.

“The recreation department, I think everyone agrees, that they're amazing and they have great offerings for our community. But what we don't have is a destination location for the adults, visitors and our residents. There's nowhere to go to experience professional arts in Mount Pleasant,” Enright said.

Marie-Louise Moreto, the president of Mount Pleasant Community Arts, agreed that the need is great for a performance space in town, but that the town should pause any final decisions on leasing space.

“For a Mount Pleasant Community Arts Center to become a reality, the artistic community, business community, residents and Town officials need to work together. There needs to be accurate information, details and public input,” Moreto said.

It seemed that the council agreed with this sentiment, as they voted to send the issue to the Culture, Arts and Pride commission to solidify the next steps.

“There are some really good questions that have been raised by the community over what the vision is, what the purpose is, the operational side of things. I think this is something that the Culture, Arts and Pride commission in meeting with these community stakeholders can then crystalize that vision and come back to council with a report so we are able to move forward with something that’s going to be successful in the community,” Councilwoman G.M. Whitley said.