Commentary, Local, Schools

Old School Culture

Taft Matney

What’s the first thing you think of when you drive past 101 East Butler Road in Mauldin? If you lived in Mauldin for a really long time, it may be that you remember going to high school there. If you lived in Mauldin for a pretty long time, you remember it as your old elementary school. If you’re new to the area, you only know it as the Mauldin Cultural Center, and that’s the way we want everyone to see it.

After the “new” Mauldin Elementary School was built on Holland Road, 101 East Butler sat empty for a brief period until the City of Mauldin purchased it and began repurposing it as a home for art, music, entertainment, and culture. Over the past several years, the Mauldin Cultural Center has become a gathering place.

With events like the Railroad Concert Series, Beachin’ Fridays concerts, and performances by comedians like Henry Cho and James Gregory, the Mauldin Cultural Center is becoming an entertainment destination.

With the BeWell Mauldin Market presented by Bon Secours and Sooie: the Mauldin BBQ Cook-Off, the Mauldin Cultural Center is becoming a food destination.

With an annual addition of sculptures along the Mauldin Public Art Trail, the Mauldin Cultural Center is becoming an art destination.

With the veterans’ memorial and the Veterans’ Walk, the Mauldin Cultural Center is a destination to honor our heroes.

These are great attributes we wanted to incorporate in to the Mauldin Cultural Center’s persona, but they are all outdoor events. Now it’s time to look inward. Now it’s time to make the inside more than echoing, cavernous hallways. It’s time to create a space that’s an auditorium instead of a cafetorium.

Thanks to the work of Community Development Director Van Broad and Cultural Director Keira Kitchings, Mauldin secured a $125,000 grant from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, and we can start making those dreams real.

The Undiscovered SC Grant is specifically designed to assist communities in developing resources that attract tourism opportunities beyond a 50-mile radius of the area. Tourism dollars can impact a community in many ways through hospitality, accommodations, retail, and more.

The city’s grant application included auditorium renovations to increase programming opportunities that would attract guest to Mauldin beyond the local community. Although more upgrade projects will take place as funds allow, with the Undiscovered SC Grant, initial plans include completion of the “Green Room” and modernizing electrical, lighting, and sound systems. Acoustic ceiling tiles, new flooring, increased accessibility for people with physical challenges, and new theater seating will also be added.

Adding a $125,000 match from hospitality funds and $38,000 in recent donations, the city expects to use roughly $280,000 toward this project as it continues working on more public/private partnerships through the Mauldin Cultural Council – a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that raises money for the sole purpose of improving Mauldin Cultural Center facilities and programming.

As parking and landscaping upgrades continue and with Ice Cream Station coming soon to the historic Gosnell Cabin, the Mauldin Cultural Center is set to become a true focal point for Mauldin, its families, and the visitors who want to experience the hospitality we have to offer.

(Taft’s Note: If you want to make a tax-deductible donation, make checks payable to the Mauldin Cultural Council and mail them to P.O. Box 249, Mauldin, SC 29662.)

— Taft Matney serves in Seat 1 on Mauldin city Council. He can be reached at♦.


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