By: Joshua Lloyd, Morning News
FLORENCE, S.C. – For Paul Beard, work in entertainment management is more than a career. It’s a way of life.
Beard, the former director of operations for the Florence Civic Center, recently was chosen to move the venue into the future as its new general manager, and he didn’t waste a second getting started.
He’s already established an “energetic, tireless” sales team that focuses on the future of the Civic Center as both an entertainment complex and a true convention center. He also has a vison of the venue promoting its own events more often.
“We’re going to get more unique, self-promoted events for the people in this area to enjoy without us having to depend on somebody to come here and do it for us,” he said. “We have the talent here to take events from start to finish and run it in between. It will be a popular thing.”
This could include different takes on the kid’s jamboree, the Pee Dee Deer Classic and other local specialty events.
Beard has more than 30 years’ professional experience in the industry, including tour management and leadership spots at multiple arenas and conference centers.
He also spent some time working for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus in New York, not as a clown, though he is adept at juggling many complex tasks at once.
“I have a passion for this. I was practically born into it,” he said. “My parents owned race tracks in Fayetteville, and through high school I helped with concessions, maintenance, ticket booths, cleanup, working special events. I grew up with this stuff. It’s natural.”
Beard has been a part of the organization for years and stepped up as interim general manager approximately three months ago when the Civic Center’s former general manager, Kendall Wall, left the center for a larger market.
The 60-year-old entertainment industry veteran takes over in the middle of a $16 million expansion to the center, which is expected to open the venue to larger, true convention style events.
Beard said the civic center quickly is becoming a more versatile venue, and that calls for an ability to sell the space on multiple fronts and pull the center out of a struggle facing many small markets.
“What we’re evolving into now is a true conference center, and ‘oh, by the way’ we have a 10,000-seat arena as well,” he said. “The arena can act as general assembly spot and do other meetings in breakout spaces.”