Welcome Hilton Head Island Residents and Guests:
Arts and culture have always played a vital part on our island. They are at the heart of everything that makes our island great, from our public art collection and the Gullah Museum to the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra. In response to recommendations from our Arts and Culture Strategic Planning Committee in 2016, Town Council has made elevating and promoting the arts, cultural, and heritage assets of the island a top priority. Despite suffering two hurricanes and a tropical storm in the past year, Town Council approved, funded and succeeded in creating an office within the Town focused solely on arts and culture.
Home to 40,000 full time residents and 2.8 million visitors annually, Hilton Head Island is best known for its beaches and golf, but it is so much more than just outdoor recreation. Hilton Head Island has a long history as a destination with extraordinary arts, cultural, heritage, and entertainment assets. We have an acclaimed symphony, diverse theater companies, a dance theatre, a choral society, and inspiring historical sites. Hundreds of artists and best-selling authors call this island home and are drawn here by its natural beauty and an environment that fosters creative exploration, as are award-winning musicians, dancers, sculptors, painters, weavers, quilters and needle artists, actors, designers, and photographers. The history and cultural sites that fill this island are too many to name individually, but highlights include pre-Civil War plantation ruins, Revolutionary War era cemeteries and mausoleums, Native American shell rings dating back to the 1300s, and the Mitchelville Preservation Project, which is the site of the first self-governed freedman’s village founded by Union Army Gen. Ormsby Mitchel for freed slaves during the Civil War in 1862. This historical site is a powerful piece of U.S. history both Hilton Head Island and South Carolina have the privilege of claiming as their own.
As we continue to find better ways to support our local artists, organizations, and programs, the Town will actively work to achieve its goal to use arts and culture to enrich and strengthen its community fabric. As our success draws near, it won’t be long before everyone will see just how deep and rich the art, heritage, culture, and entertainment offerings are on the island. I look forward to showing you and the world all that Culture Hilton Head Island has to offer.
Stephen G. Riley, ICMA-CM