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We wish to answer all your questions about the transformation of the new Gaillard Center and its impact on you and our city. This extensive list of frequently asked questions covers must topics - from cost to timing. If you do not find your answer here or by visiting the other pages of our website, please let us know!

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The new center will be built on the Gaillard's framework with new construction wrapping around three sides of the old auditorium.

Questions & Answers

Why is this project important for Charleston?

Charleston's reputation around the world has made it a top destination for hospitality and tourism and, increasingly, business. Historically, that reputation has been based in large measure on Charleston's standing in the arts, in which the Gaillard Auditorium played an important role. Over time, inevitably, the Gaillard Auditorium has become outmoded and unable to meet the needs of a sophisticated performing arts community, thereby jeopardizing the city's growth in music, theatre, and dance particularly. The world-class performance hall in the new Gaillard Center will provide the final piece in Charleston's acclaimed arts infrastructure. As residents of the cultural capital of the region, our citizens reap the intellectual and social benefits of living and working in a community that supports the arts, and our city deserves nothing less.

Also, expanded and elegant exhibition and banquet space will make downtown Charleston a superb destination for businesses and corporations, festivals and trade shows, and a host of private events and celebrations. The revenue-producing aspects of this space are obviously important for the city, as are the savings it will realize from integrating city offices and services in the new Gaillard Center.

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What is the cost of the renovation of the Gaillard Center and how is it funded?

The total budget for the renovation is $142 million. This includes design, construction, and equipping/furnishing of the performance hall, exhibition space, and city offices. The budget for the project cannot be exceeded thanks to a Construction Manager at Risk with Guaranteed Maximum Price approach.

Up to $71 million of the project costs are contributed by private donors: The City of Charleston's share will be funded with accommodations and hospitality taxes and New Market Tax Credits ($20 million); revenues from a Tax Increment Financing district ($32 million); and general obligation bonds ($19 million). Accommodations taxes are used for projects and costs that are related to tourism and hospitality. New Market Tax Credits and revenues from Tax Increment Financing districts can only be used for projects such as this, not to fund general services. The Tax Increment Financing district through which the Gaillard renovation is funded was created specifically for that purpose and, concomitantly, to fund the ongoing city drainage project.

Why is the city involved in the renovation of the Gaillard?

The Gaillard building and surrounding grounds are owned by the city. The opportunity provided through this unique private-public partnership enables the city to accomplish an urgently needed renovation of performance and exhibition spaces; generates additional revenues to the city; saves taxpayers money through the consolidation of city offices; and, because of its unique timing, enables the advantage of lower construction costs.

Why renovate the old Gaillard rather than build a new building elsewhere?

The economics of renovating the Gaillard are unquestionably sound. The land and the building are city-owned. Purchasing land elsewhere to build a new building is cost-prohibitive and not attainable by the city or through private sources. The renovation is designed in agreement with the city's preservation plan; it strips the existing Gaillard and builds the new center on its framework. New construction wraps around three sides of the old auditorium. The building is easily accessible and pedestrian-friendly, has adjacent parking, and is well-located near other educational, cultural, and performance venues. This approach can be accomplished without raising taxes and has a substantial economic redevelopment impact for the city.

Why do this project now?

The timing of the renovation is unique in several important respects: One involves the opportunity afforded by private donors to partner and share one half of the cost of the project; another takes advantage of construction costs that are 25 percent lower than three years ago and eleven percent lower than five years from now. In addition, the city loses money operating the current exhibition hall; fails to realize the potential revenue of the performance hall; and leases costly space across the city to accommodate numerous city functions. Renovating the Gaillard now provides a cost-effective and efficient opportunity to recreate a civic and performance space for the city's residents and visitors alike.

Does the Gaillard Center project take funds from the area school districts or affect other capital projects in the city?

The project does not affect funding for the districts. The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds that will be used for the renovation derive from a municipal TIF district. To the contrary, the new Gaillard Center can become a tremendous classroom for our community's school children, offering numerous performance opportunities to enrich their lives. Indeed, the Gaillard Center will be a vital resource for our community's schools. No other capital project in the city will be affected by the renovation of the Gaillard.

How will the renovation of the Gaillard benefit the elderly and the handicapped?

The renovated Gaillard Center is designed to offer greater ease of access, improved seating, and ample space for movement throughout the facility. Additional elevators and restrooms and seamless passages from indoors to outdoor garden spaces all create a friendlier and more supportive environment for the handicapped and the elderly. Superior acoustics in the performance hall and exhibition spaces will heighten the experience of listening to music, lectures, and various other activities within these sensitively designed spaces.

What about people who never go to the Gaillard: Why should they support it?

All citizens benefit from investments in the arts, parks, recreation, public spaces, preservation of the environment, and schools. These elements contribute significantly to our quality of life and elevate the stature and contributions of our city. In addition, the economic impact of this project - its creation of nearly 1,000 jobs during construction, 400 new permanent jobs, and increased annual economic benefit of more than $39 million ($62 million during the years of construction) - offers a compelling reason for the public's support. Most importantly, a performance hall is an investment in the future of our children, whose lives will be enriched in a city that appreciates and nurtures the arts.

Will private contributions to the Gaillard take money away from other organizations such as the Charleston Symphony Orchestra or the Gibbes Museum of Art?

Every arts organization in Charleston benefits from the Gaillard Center. The new Gaillard will be the performance home of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, providing a properly sized audience chamber with exquisite acoustics and a vastly improved audience experience. Spoleto Festival USA, the Charleston Concert Association, the ballet, and other arts groups will attract world-class talent to perform in the well-designed and well-sized new performance hall. The new center offers wonderful opportunities for the presentation of visual and decorative arts as well, and boosts the community's overall enthusiasm for the arts.

Ways To Support

The History

Of Charleston Arts

In 1736, Charleston gave birth to the country's first theater and later, to the first opera performance. More than 275 years later, our love of the arts flourishes.

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Gaillard Center Plans

Get acquainted with the architectural
plans, renderings, and models of
the new Gaillard Center.
And just imagine.

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Your Support

Public/Private Funding

Construction of important civic spaces
is a communal investment and requires community commitment, vision, and
a spirit of endeavor.

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