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City Council votes to merge See Lancaster

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By Jesef Williams

See Lancaster, the group that promotes tourism throughout the county, will now join forces with the Performing Arts Series at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

Lancaster City Council voted unanimously for the merger at its meeting Tuesday.

Eric Rowell, See Lancaster’s board chairman, and Jay Rainey, who headed a special task force on See Lancaster, presented City Council with four restructuring proposals at the meeting.

One proposal called for cutting off all funding for See Lancaster.

Another called for a revision of the group’s aim and one other proposal called for major restructuring without involving the Performing Arts Series.

The proposal council agreed on called for the merger.

Rowell said he was surprised council acted so quickly in determining the group’s fate. He’s pleased with council’s decision.

“It was more financially feasible,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Rainey also favored the merger.

He told council that the Performing Arts Series has name recognition that can make See Lancaster more of a tourism magnet. Several council members agreed.

“This is a community partnership I think everyone can be proud of,” Councilman John Howard said.

New structure?

Although See Lancaster and the Performing Arts Series will join forces, each group will retain its own title, Rowell said.

Peggy Little, director of the Performing Arts Series, said management of her group will move from the Education Foundation at USCL to the city of Lancaster.

Though details are still being ironed out, she expects the Performing Arts Series to fall under See Lancaster’s umbrella.

Little thinks the merger will be beneficial, as it is expected to save both groups money.

See Lancaster will also help further promote the series, which is now in its third concert season.

“We believe this will be a good fit,” said Little, who was also on the special task force. “We hope to continue to upgrade and make the Performing Arts Series better and better.”

Funding

The city has had complete oversight over See Lancaster’s finances since 2008, when accounting irregularities were discovered.

Since then, the city has given funding to See Lancaster periodically, instead of for the whole year, and the city has required See Lancaster to submit monthly invoices for its expenses.

The monthly allocations have been about $11,000.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council voted to continue funding at the same rate until June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The city will continue to supervise and manage most of See Lancaster’s functions and will appoint an advisory board of directors, which means that the current board will be dissolved.

The city will also be responsible for hiring a new director.

However, management of See Lancaster’s Welcome Center may be turned over to Lancaster County, officials say. Plans are for the center to eventually be located in the existing county courthouse.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152