THE COLLETON CENTER STORY
The Colleton Center Board was established as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2007 with the goal of renovating and restoring the Hampton Street Elementary School, transforming it into an arts center for the use of the entire Colleton County community. On October 30, 2006, the Colleton Center Board purchased the School for the sum of $10,000 from the Colleton County Board of School Trustees who required within the deed that the building be employed for programs and uses that benefit and enhance the education, economy, and culture of Colleton County, its citizens and visitors. The building is now known as the Colleton Center.
Since that time, the Colleton Center has been alive with activity – as a film set for scenes from “Forrest Gump” and “Radio,” as a home for dance classes, the Empty Bowls food bank program, school performances, musicals and plays. Today the auditorium provides a performance space for a variety of organizations and artists around the region, and for the Colleton Children’s Theatre. We also offer meeting and forum space for many organizations and agencies.
In the last several years, the Center has provided classroom space for incubator arts and businesses, such as the Roger Burris Studio (art, pottery and Empty Bowls) and Studio with A Heart (jewelry, acrylics and collage). The non-denominational LifeSong Church held services in our Gallery each Sunday, and utilized other parts of the building for Sunday School and a nursery. High Jump Cheer and Dance Company met at the Center each week, and Ilona’s School of Dance held dance classes for all ages, to include ballet, teen and adult shag, clogging and exercise. The Colleton County Arts Council has also held their Children's Theatre performances each year in our auditorium and still uses space for their costume and prop shop. We hope when renovations are completed (Spring of 2018), that these and other organizations and businesses will return to the Center on a regular basis to continue their good work!
The Colleton Center is a unique facility that promises to become the heart of the arts and entertainment community of Colleton County, and our Auditorium is the heart of our building. Designed by John Truluck, the auditorium was considered an architectural marvel in 1942 when the elementary school opened for classes. Acoustics were excellent; the back, side, and below stage areas were built to accommodate a large cast, costume change space, and scenery shifts; the audience area was enormous with a balcony that ”floated” above the main floor held up by a steel truss with no supporting columns.
Thanks to the successful passage of our county’s 1 Percent Sales Tax referendum in November of 2014, our historic auditorium will receive $1.732 million to begin some of the renovations for such major and much needed upgrades as HVAC system improvements, new draperies for stage and windows, and new sound and light systems, all of which will help us to realize the dream of having a Colleton County performance center akin to the Sumter Opera House in Sumter.
The Colleton Center Board has kept this dream alive on a shoestring since 2005. This year we will juggle all the challenges of construction and closure while keeping the public engaged, informed, and looking forward to the grand opening. We all know the results will be worth the wait – and we will have a facility our entire community will be proud to make their event center. As the Chairman of the Arlington Virginia Arts Board said when they were developing their support for arts programming. “The arts reach out and touch individuals and groups of people who would not enter into community activities through any other route. The arts make places better, and they should be cultivated as assiduously as any other community good.”
The Colleton Center looks forward to partnering with City and County governments, with the business community, other organizations, schools, artists, and most importantly, with the citizens of the County to involve the arts in our everyday cultural landscape. We invite you all to: