DESPITE THIRD SCRAPPED PLAN FOR MUSEUM, ARTS THRIVING SAYS MAYOR By Roxanne Escobales

08/16/06

Yesterday the city of Tampa scrapped plans to move its Museum of Art for the third time. But Mayor Pam Iorio has not taken away without offering an alternative. The latest plans drawn up by the City – the fourth set in five years – would have a new art building close to the existing site on the Hillsborough river and situated next to a proposed Children’s Museum. The two together are being touted as Museum Row.

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Ken Rollins is a year into his two-year contract as interim director of the museum. He said many factors must be considered when decided a site for the art institute.

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The city’s art museum receives no federal or state funding and relies solely on local money. For the project, the city has 17 and a half million dollars left over from an initial 27 million it collected from the community investment tax under former mayor Dick Greco. In that mix, the museum is heavily dependent on private donors.

Museum director Ken Rollins

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City Council member John Dingfelder said that the process has gone on long enough, and that most people involved feel confident the project will now move along smoothly in regards to the proposed location of the new museum. But he also said that the site of the museum is secondary to the design of the building itself.

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Director Ken Rollins says that above all, the museum must be functional as well as strategically placed.

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During Pam Iorio’s first address to City Council after she was newly elected, she made arts and culture a significant priority for the direction of the city. She said: “I want us to be a city where creative energies can flourish and that Tampa can become known as a city of arts and culture.�

Iorio even created new positions within the city that would be responsible for cultivating an arts scene.

When asked today if the constantly thwarted plans to move the museum have gotten in the way of this, the mayor said:

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Iorio said the arts in Tampa are thriving.

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Mayor Iorio said the museum board of trustees must approve the new plans before it can proceed. If all goes accordingly, she says the new museum should open its doors in 2008.

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