Friday, June 10, 2016

Controversy over Toe River Arts Council's decision to remove sculpture from exhibit

A sculpture by Melisa Cadell was removed from the Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) Studio Tour exhibit at the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery. Apparently TRAC considered the piece too controversial for display. (I say apparently because I do not have firsthand knowledge for their reasoning, but that is the explanation I have seen reported by at least one person who saw a sign posted by TRAC in the exhibit.) You can see the sculpture and read a little about it here:

Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of discussion about TRAC's decision to remove this piece. Some people have called it censorship while others have expressed support, or at least understanding for what TRAC did. Here is a response from Denise Cook, TRAC's Executive Director (posted for Denise on facebook by a TRAC staff member):

On behalf of TRAC, from Denise Cook, Executive Director:
I first want to say that this decision was not based on funding at all. Rather the decision was made knowing the arts at many times may push the edge, and we want that so we can grow and learn. But, as the arts council, we sometimes walk a delicate balance in service to our many constituencies, and this can present challenges. This is a very complex conversation with many sensitivities for TRAC and our community to consider. I would like to set up a forum with the arts community to explore this topic in a deeper conversation. I invite anyone who would like to be included in the conversation to let me know by contacting me at ( and 828-682-7215) so you will be included as we plan the time to meet. I hope you will join us.

In response to a comment on this post, the TRAC staff member said they would let everyone know when this forum is scheduled, but if you're interested, you might let Denise know.

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