Halls with transformative powers are beacons of cities around the world, from Vienna to Boston, Berlin to Nashville, Milan to New York. They fill their citizens with pride and anticipation that they evoke by their mere presence. Transcending the single moment when they were built, great halls represent ceremony and the sharing of commitment—a celebration of the boundless and exhilarating potential of the human spirit and endeavor.
When Charleston’s Municipal Auditorium and Exhibition Hall, known to us as the Gaillard, was unveiled on a lovely evening in July 1968, our city dressed up to share the excitement and sense of anticipation.
At the time, the Gaillard was a symbol of ambition for Charleston’s economic prosperity, for its cultural growth, its status and civic pride.
The Gaillard fulfilled those promises. Some forty years later, however, we have come to agree that the Gaillard no longer reflects the city that Charleston has become.
It no longer serves the community’s artistic needs and the potential of a world-renowned city that people clamor to visit.
While Charleston offers a diverse and magnificent palette of performance venues woven throughout the city’s bustling traffic and streets, Charleston lacks a perfectly sized concert hall with stellar acoustics to attract and accommodate the finest productions of orchestral music, opera, dance, and musical theater that will thrill arts patrons and sustain the artistic standards of our city, set and maintained over the past many decades.
The Gaillard does not fit us anymore. In supporting the new Gaillard Center, let’s remember the contributions that each generation is called to make to sustain and renew the legacy of a city. The Cistern, the Dock Street Theatre, the South Carolina Aquarium, and the Gaillard itself—each in its time was our fellow citizens’ contribution to the cultural life and the economic prosperity of our city, testament to the vision and spirit of a citizenry.
We have the opportunity to continue to preserve that tradition by building a new Gaillard Center and renewing the artistic and cultural promise of Charleston.
Please join us.