The End is Just the Beginning

The late Stephen Covey’s second Habits of Highly Effective People offers sage advice for any January: Begin with the end in mind. And Hilton Head Island’s recently hired Culture and Arts Network director, Jenn McEwen, and the newly formed citizen Advisory Committee established to support her position are doing just that! With the end of 2018 in mind, and with all the buzz about infrastructure, they’ve embarked on an infrastructure project of their own – minus the concrete!

The project, a three-pronged strategy, is designed to produce much-needed structural support for our town’s prolific cultural assets. Once that support is in place, the opportunities to create, communicate and collaborate will dramatically benefit all Hilton Head Islanders, whether business, resident or visitor, now and into the future. Quality of life, economic well-being, community pride and visitor experience will all be even better. Here’s where we begin:

Step #1. Apply for the distinguished State designation of South Carolina Cultural District from the South Carolina Arts Commission (southcarolinaarts.com). A cultural district is a geographic area with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. It is easily identifiable to visitors and residents and serves as a center of cultural, artistic and economic activity. Bluffton and Beaufort are two of the eight South Carolina municipalities that have already achieved this distinction.

Mapping our assets is an important part of the application, and our map currently features nearly 200 locations where arts and culture “happen” here. That’s more than four cultural sites or activities per square mile! This designation will strengthen our local cultural identity and sense of community. It will highlight historic sites, enhancing our image. The benefits are obvious: more recognition of our wonderful cultural assets; more opportunities to multiply our offerings; more reasons to visit for a short stay-or stay for a lifetime! McEwen and the Advisory Committee are working toward application submission on or about June 30.

Step #2. Marketing. This includes the development of an attractive and identifiable branding of the initiative, a new logo, and story lines intended to raise awareness of, and interest in, our island’s offerings through a variety of media outlets. A dynamic and responsive website with an interactive calendar will produce a means for broad-based information exchange-a valuable resource for collaborating and planning! Expect these infrastructure components to be introduced to islanders by September 30.

Step #3. Measurements. Americans for the Arts, an organization based in Washington, D.C. and New York, N.Y., “serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America” (americansforthearts.org). They have committed to perform an Arts Economic Impact Study specifically for Hilton Head Island. This will provide us with a baseline economic impact measurement, tailored to our unique location and environment. A corresponding economic impact calculator will be created so that all our arts and cultural organizations can more accurately analyze their impact on the community. An entire “high season” must be evaluated for the study to be reliable. Expect the final product to be delivered around December of 2018.

Work is already underway for each of these three critical steps. By the end of 2018, we should have infrastructure suitable to be the start to realizing the full potential of all our arts and cultural opportunities.
Jenn McEwen and chairman Jane Joseph are available to speak at community gatherings. If interested, please e-mail jennm@hiltonheadislandsc.gov.

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