Hide the art! The convention is coming - FOX 13 News

Hide the art! The convention is coming


It was a brazen crime right in the middle of downtown Tampa – a group of men knocked over a sculpture, and it's all caught on a surveillance camera. Now, it has some people wondering what to do with public structures like this during the busy weeks around the Republican National Convention this August.

The answer may be to put them out of sight.

Marc DeWaele built the 700-pound steel statue that stretches to the sky in Tampa. It's one of eighteen big city-sized works of art adorning downtown sidewalks.

"So many people come up and take photos with it and stand next to it and there's never a problem. And then you get the call at 2:30 in the morning that somebody's come over and put it on its side," said Abbey Dohring.

Dohring founded the ArtLoud program, which places the statues around Tampa. She's been meeting with the city about possible restrictions during the Republican National Convention in anticipation of the large crowds of protesters coming to town.

"Until two days ago, we weren't sure we were going to need to move it. Now it's looking like it's going to have to go," she said.

The vandals just may have tipped the scales.

"Pretty much anything that can be lifted by three men will have to be moved off our city streetscapes," Dohring explained.

Right now, the guidelines are still being worked out, but everything is being evaluated on Tampa city streets from the artwork to the large planters that are throughout downtown. They'll be evaluated for safety, security, and their aesthetic value.

"It's a little disappointing because then everyone won't get to see how lovely and beautiful Tampa is," Dohring continued.

According to the Tampa Downtown Partnership, no official regulations have been put in place. However, the city is combing the area block by block to evaluate all safety risks and develop a plan before August regarding what stays up and what is stored away.

"I think it's security that we need to take, but it's too bad that we need to take it down," DeWaele offered.

The precautions are directly connected to crowd size. It has nothing to do with politics.

As for the vandals, there have been no arrests so far. Police hope someone will recognize the culprits from the security footage.

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