Tybee officials release Post Theater’s financial debt

By Kelly Quimby/SMN

The operators of the Tybee Post Theater will no longer have to funnel a portion of their ticket sales to the city under an agreement approved by Tybee Island officials this week.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Tybee City Council adopted an agreement with the Friends of the Tybee Theater that lifts the group’s obligation to pay the city $1 for each ticket sold. Instead of a financial payment, the approved document requires the Friends to set aside 16 days each year for the city to use the theater for free.

Councilman Monty Parks, who had asked at a previous meeting that City Attorney Bubba Hughes draft such an agreement, said in advance of the vote Thursday he thought the move was a good one. The benefits of having the Post Theater in operation on Tybee have far outweighed the money owed to the city, he said.

“I think that they bring a level of entertainment to this island that we’ve never seen,” Parks said. “They’re bringing in touring acts, and the fact that they bring in first-run movies is outstanding. They provided a regional stage for students in schools. The Grey’s Reef series has been extraordinarily educational. I really think that they’ve got the right thing going on.”

Parks stressed that the new agreement does not forgive the Post’s debt because it still allows for the city to reap in-kind services. It also ratifies some of the provisions in a former agreement, adopted by the city and the Theater in 2016. That agreement established provisions for the Friends of the Tybee Theater to lease video and audio equipment purchased by the city in exchange for use of the facility.

It’s now been more than a year and a half since the old Army theater reopened to the public with the help of a $65,000 loan from the city, said Jim Kluttz, president of the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Tybee Theater, and so far it’s exceeding expectations.

Although, he said, the original estimate was that it would take about five years for the Post Theater to get established, it’s now on the path to being established in three. Kluttz said the theater even has a little leeway in its operations — a heartening fact when it’s only been open for a year and a half.

Pre-sales of tickets to events scheduled for this summer are outpacing the pre-sales from this time last year, Kluttz said, and the schedule has been operating full-tilt during the last year.

“We’ve really made unbelievable progress,” he said. “It really is heartening to see it. I tell the Board (of Directors) just about every meeting: Miracle No. 1 is we opened it, and Miracle No. 2 is we’re going to make it go. The thing’s going to be successful.”

Kluttz said the agreement approved Thursday will amount to a significant savings — an average $1,000 each month — for the Post Theater, which can be used to assist in funding operations.