Art Wheels A-Turnin’

Source: Washington City Paper

It seems that the pressure from the public and the media has forced the Board of Trustees into communications with the outside world.

The Washington Post has come to the fact-checking aid of the arts world in several recent publications. On October 4, they published an article, which closed with:

“The Corcoran board could avoid a firestorm of hostility by being more open and engaging the public.”

On October 9, the Post published an article discussing the legality of the sale. Save The Corcoran’s law team from Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, LLP sent a 9-page letter to the Board of Trustees that outlined violations of the original 1870 Charter. The letter claimed that the charter stated that the Corcoran must remain within ‘Washington City” and that a move outside of city limits would be in violation of the charter. The most disturbing of the allegations is one that claims that members of the Board were secretly scouting locations on the Alexandria waterfront as early as 2011.

Also on October 9, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher delivered a letter to the Corcoran with their demands. Listed in the letter, the two are:

1. The Corcoran will end all corporate waste associated with an unlawful move outside of Washington, D.C., and publicly announce that the Corcoran will not move outside of the District;

2. The Corcoran will fill the three current vacancies on its Board of Trustees with nominees selected from the Save the Corcoran Coalition’s Advisory Committee (response requested by October 19).

On October, 10, several Corcoran students spoke out in their own ways. One group posted a sign in the buildings front windows reading “4 SALE”. On the same day, Corcoran senior Tom Pullin posted art around the school, notifying freshmen of the sale. In both protest incidences, the art was immediately taken down and confiscated.

And finally, On October 12, the Corcoran released a statement in response to the recent buzz:

“The Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design is in conversation with both the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University. These activities are in keeping with the Corcoran Board’s stewardship and commitment to explore and secure potential sustainable options for the future of both the gallery and the college. No further details will be released at this time.”

Some are comforted by this press release, while others, including many students of the Corcoran, want the Corcoran to remain its own entity.

Tensions are still high in the city while both sides decide their next steps. It seems Save The Corcoran’s legal team is in full force. The Washington Post is now following the issue very closely and local arts blogs are abuzz.

The students of the school are some of the angriest. Security was beefed up at the school following the protests, with long-time students being forced to display their ‘badges’ at every entrance. Students expressed their anger, fears and concerns to leaders in heated assemblies on October 15th and 16th.

With the lawyers letters sent and their demands made, the ball is now in the Corcoran’s court.

Disclosure: This author is a student at The Corcoran College of Art and Design.

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