On October 1, 2019, Dillon Historic School Foundation held its monthly meeting. At that meeting, a new project was introduced to the members. That project, “Moving in a New Direction,” was carefully outlined and presented to the members, a discussion followed, and the project was accepted. A notice was published in The Dillon Herald on October 31, and Dillon Herald readers were introduced to it. Then, on November 5, DHSF met again and was asked to consider two great events that would be available for performances in Dillon. These two events were accepted, contracts were drawn up and signed by both parties, and the booked events were advertised in The Dillon Herald on November 28.
Since then, a number of people who read the original notice and saw the first advertisement have expressed a keen interest and have been asking questions. Five of the most repeated questions have been submitted here. Each question has been fully answered.
Q: Why did Dillon Historic School Foundation decide to “move in a new direction” and explore possibilities for staging professional performances and productions in Dillon?
A: Those of us who have lived here for many years, if not for all of our lives, became aware that something remembered has been missing for too long. Once, there were full-stage productions by at least two civic groups; band and choral concerts; piano, voice, and dance recitals; high school plays, and the Community Concert Series—all presented at the DHS 1936 Auditorium, but most of these attractions have all but faded over the years. However, some local school-sponsored productions have survived and have maintained their tradition of providing entertainment for local audiences.
Since the late 1980s, The Dillon County Theatre has promoted theatrical productions and has supported cultural events. In October, 2019, DHSF voted to join the effort by sponsoring professional theatre performances, extending the theatre season to a year-round calendar, and attracting visitors to the City of Dillon. “DHSF Presents” decided to begin offering new exciting theatre experiences for Dillon County and the surrounding area as it anticipates the reopening of the historic DHS 1936 Auditorium.
“DHSF Presents” greatly appreciates the unparalleled support and encouragement extended by Rep. Jackie Hayes, the project’s Primary Sponsor. We thank him for sharing his valued advice, expressing his personal desire to see this “cultural vacancy” filled, and his willingness to work alongside us to make this project a success for Dillon. This project has been launched, and there is no turning back. Now, the guaranteed success of this singular project will depend on the continued support from the various segments of this community and all individuals who seek to further enhance Dillon’s quality of life. Thank you again, Coach Hayes.
Q: What events have already been planned for Dillon audiences?
A: The inaugural season will present two professional events: “The Original Drifters” on February 21 and “Comedy Extravaganza” on April 24. These events were contracted by DHSF through a licensed booking agent who serves performing arts venues throughout the southeast. “DHSF Presents” holds these contracts, as well as contracts with a professional light-and-sound technician—a requirement specified in both legally binding contracts.
Subsequent seasons could feature performances by (1) vocal groups (MoTown, country, spiritual, or contemporary), (2) variety acts, (3) instrumental music (classical, jazz, big-band, blue-grass, or ensembles), (4) dance (modern/interpretive, tap, classical ballet, international or cultural folk-dancing), and (5) a speakers’ forum (inspirational, political, or cultural topics; media personalities; panel discussions; open debates). Consequently, future seasons would offer 4-5 events depending, of course, on the dedicated support of the Dillon Community.
Q: How will “DHSF Presents” financially support this worthwhile effort of bringing professional performance events back to Dillon—something that has been missing for too many years?
A: To guarantee the success of this new venture, the Dillon Community MUST become involved now by becoming sponsors, benefactors, and members of “DHSF Presents,” and by showing support by attending the events and by encouraging their friends to do the same. It is important for the community to know, as an example, that “The Original Drifters” (nine performers: 4 Singers, 5 musicians) and the technicians will cost a total $11,265—not including motel accommodations and printing/advertising costs. It is imperative that area civic groups, various organizations, industries, corporations, local businesses, graduation classes, and dedicated individuals make the decision to help finance this inaugural two-event season. This local financial support will be supplemented by income generated by ticket sales—hopefully, sell-outs.
Through clearly focused planning, skillful management, and strong community support, “DHSF Presents” will increasingly become self-sustaining—gaining community support, growing in potential, and broadening its programs to included learning experiences for Dillon’s young people, such as summer productions and performance workshops.
Information about Support Levels will appear in next week’s The Dillon Herald, or you may call 843-632-2774 for general information or to ask additional questions.
Q: Where will “DHSF Presents” stage these locally sponsored theatre events?
A: Currently, there are three available venues in Dillon County: the Dillon County Theatre, Dillon High School’s new auditorium, and the Ellis Performing Arts Center in Latta. Which venue will be selected for an event depends on the suitability of the performance space and the amenities necessary to meet the production’s specific needs. A production’s number of performers and crew-members must comfortably “fit” the venue and accommodate the projected capacity of each event’s audience. Naturally, some productions attract larger audiences. Hopefully, “DHSF Presents” will succeed in making the perfect match between a production’s requirements and its appeal with the intended audience’s response.
Eventually, perhaps in only a few years, Dillon Historic School Foundation will proudly open a fourth performance venue in Dillon—the historic and completely restored 1936 Auditorium of the former Dillon High School located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. This auditorium, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has a seating capacity for more than 1000 patrons and has the potential to become a major tourist attraction in the Pee Dee Region, bringing larger audiences to larger productions.
Q: When will tickets be available for the first event (“The Original Drifters”)?
A: Tickets for “The Original Drifters” will be available for reservation-only in two blocks: For all eight levels of support categories (from Benefactors-to-Patrons), tickets can be reserved beginning Monday, February 2.
Ticket reservations for the General Public will become available the next week beginning Monday, February 9. Ticket reservations will end at noon on February 20 or before, if all tickets have been reserved. The number of tickets available for any event will be determined by the seating capacity of the chosen venue—The Dillon County Theatre (250 seats) and Dillon High School Auditorium (500 seats). The venue will be chosen before ticket reservations begin on February 2. When persons call to reserve their tickets, they will told where the event will be held.