Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Big shoes to fill at Tampa Museum of Art

Tampa Museum of Art director Todd Smith leaves the museum on solid footing with a strong run of traveling exhibits and commendable efforts to attract more visitors. As Smith prepares to depart for a new directorship in California this summer, the museum's board needs to find a leader who will embrace his initiatives to bring world-class art to Tampa and engage the public, particularly those who might not see themselves as patrons of the arts. The next director should understand the museum's mission and the city's investment and create a vision that grows interest in the museum throughout the region.

Smith arrived at the museum in 2008 after an emotional battle over the institution's future. Three years earlier, the city and the museum's board locked horns over financing for a proposed new facility. The city paid $7 million for design work and pledged $27 million toward the project. But shortly after Mayor Pam Iorio took office in 2003, she postponed groundbreaking until museum leaders could prove that they had secured financing to fund the remainder of the $76 million project. They could not, and plans fell apart in a nasty fight that pit art patrons against city officials bent on protecting taxpayers.

In 2008, a scaled-down, more feasible plan emerged and the City Council approved a contract for the construction of a new museum along the downtown waterfront.

Smith deserves credit for being a stabilizing force after such a fractured period and steering the museum through the $32.5 million project. Designed by architect Stanley Saitowitz, the 66,000-square-foot building opened in 2010. It abuts the Glazer Children's Museum, the Hillsborough River and the renovated Curtis Hixon Park. Not content to rely on the museum's permanent collection of antiquities to attract visitors, Smith secured several traveling exhibits that brought in world-class works by boldface names like Matisse and Degas. He also appealed to the community by offering broader access to the public through "pay what you will" nights, an effort to attract visitors on evenings when traffic downtown and at the museum dwindled.

With its prime location, the museum has taken its rightful place as one of the city's centerpiece attractions, and Smith deserves much of the credit. He also secured an impressive, diverse collection of exhibits for the next two years, including works by Renoir and Chagall and a show of American art by Norman Rockwell in the spring. Now the board needs to find the right person to fill Smith's post in a timely manner. The job description should call upon applicants to build on Smith's good start and find ways to further engage the community, lift the museum's profile and make it a must-visit destination in the bay area.

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Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

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A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18