In the three years since the Humanities Foundation bought the desanctified church at the corner of Rutledge and Carolina streets on the peninsula's West Side, the building's hosted a bouillabaisse of events in its first-floor main hall, outdoor patio, and an expansive theatre upstairs, bringing in crowds ranging from oyster eaters and live music listeners to artsy-fartsy multimedia types, new music composers, and visual artists of all flavors.
Now the Humanities Foundation is ending the facility's stint as a special events locus and shuttering the doors — for the time being, anyway. About a year ago, the group severed ties with black theatre group Art Forms and Theatre Concepts after deciding it wasn't getting enough out of the relationship, in terms of either live theatre or, more significantly, rent. Three weeks ago, facility and events manager George Hill left the Foundation's employment, and Bill Stewart, the director of Spirit Moves, a Nia and yoga group that was the building's only permanent tenant, was asked to find a new home.
In a phone conversation last week, Jan Pomerantz, the new executive director of the Foundation, was coy about what the group has in mind for the facility, stating little more than, "We're stepping back and exploring a lot of different options."
Increasingly, though, it looks as though the 16,000-square foot facility may become the new home of the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts, or LILA, as it's known to its creators, which include S.C. Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth and Crazyhorse literary magazine editor Carol Ann Davis, who works at College of Charleston. Wentworth and Davis confirmed that LILA has partnered with CofC in its effort to promote the literary arts by bringing together writers and readers and developing programs open to all. A big part of that mission is to open a permanent facility that provides classrooms, writing studios, meeting and reading rooms, study desks, computer labs, and a library.
The chief goals at this point seem to be formalizing the agreement and bringing the building up to physical standards — no small task, according to those involved.
"There's no formal letter of agreement yet," Wentworth was careful to say, "but we have a verbal agreement. There's a lot of excitement and energy around it, but it's a long way from being a reality. We have a long way to go with programming, and of course the building needs a lot of work.
"We want to be there and they want us there," added Wentworth, noting that the deal should come together within the next couple of months. "It's a great space, a great place to be."