The City of West Columbia has announced Columbia Children’s Theatre’s move to West Columbia at the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center (BLEC).
Made possible by a public-private partnership with the City of West Columbia and Columbia Children’s Theatre (CCT), the move will be effective February 1 with CCT’s after-school classes, summer camps, rehearsals, and administrative services all located at the BLEC. Incorporating cultural arts, tourism, and hospitality as critical components of economic development and creating a cultural center that offers programs for music and the performing arts with outdoor events that activate spaces, especially in the evening, are initiatives identified in the 2018 West Columbia City Council adopted citywide revitalization plans. CCT’s move to West Columbia, in the heart of the city, helps to attain those goals.
While CCT will continue to tour throughout the Midlands, most of its performances will move to West Columbia beginning with its 19th season in September 2023. During the move, CCT plans to undergo significant outreach to the surrounding community to ensure the broadest possible access to its services.
Mayor Tem Miles said, “Based upon the recommendations of the city-wide redevelopment plan, we are investing a portion of the hospitality tax collections to support the relocation of the Columbia Children’s Theatre to West Columbia. This will bring additional folks to West Columbia to support our local restaurants and businesses, which is the purpose of the hospitality tax system. More importantly, it will improve the lives and cultural offerings in West Columbia.”
“It truly is a partnership,” says CCT board chair Bernard Cobb. “We are so grateful to the BLEC and the City of West Columbia for making this investment in CCT and the next generation of young performers.”
As the only theatre in South Carolina solely producing theatre both by and for young people, CCT has served thousands of families and young performers over the last 17 years. The organization’s programming includes a mainstage company of professional adult actors creating theatre for children and families, as well as a robust YouTheatre performance series presented by youth in grades one–12. CCT also offers a vast array of classes and camps for youth ages three– 18, school residences, and an active roster of touring productions. This year the S.C. Theatre Association recognized CCT for this work by naming it the 2022 Theatre of Distinction.
“CCT has managed to expand so much in the last 10 years. We knew it was time to grow into a new chapter,” says CCT artistic director Jerry Stevenson. “This partnership is such a natural fit because it allows us to reach new audiences while continuing to serve the community that has empowered us to achieve so much.”
Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center works to preserve Lakeview School’s rich history while educating and empowering youth, teens, families, and senior citizens through various activities. The center’s impact has grown exponentially in recent years, serving over 22,000 individuals a year with an incredible diversity of programs ranging from diabetes intervention to youth sports and more.
“ We are excited about our partnership with the Columbia Children’s Theatre and the opportunity to expand and diversify the BLEC’s programming for youth and teens in West Columbia,” says Dr. Cindye Richburg Cotton, executive director of Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center. “We are also profoundly grateful for the City of West Columbia’s support for this initiative. The Columbia Children’s Theatre and the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center share a commitment to educating young people and preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of the future. We are confident this partnership will positively impact youth and families throughout West Columbia and the Midlands.”