Newsletter: May 16, 2024

Deja Vu With Boca Museum and Commissioner Casale

At the Delray Beach City Commission goal setting workshop held on May 3, 2024, it was revealed that The Boca Museum has submitted an unsolicited proposal for the Old School Square’s Crest Theater art classrooms and theater at the behest of Commissioner Juli Casale.

The Crest Building which has been dark for almost three years has, in the past, had art classes filled with local citizens attending workshops in photography, painting and other arts taught by local artists and programmed through a Delray Beach nonprofit.

In Casale’s previous term as commissioner, in 2021, she along with Mayor Petrolia and Commissioner Shirly Johnson voted to terminate the lease between the city and Old School Square Center for the Arts after 32 years of running the Old School Square cultural campus.  There was no plan in place to replace the arts organization when the lease was terminated, resulting in the buildings sitting dark for over a year.

Casale worked towards getting the Boca Museum to take over the Cornell Museum to solve part of the problem. Many Delray citizens expressed to the commission that they did not want an outside organization like Boca Museum to take over the iconic Delray cultural center.

In the April 15, 2023, commission meeting, the resolution to enter into an agreement to pay Boca Museum $125,000 to take over the Cornell Museum was voted down 3-2, with Commissioners Johnson, Boylston and Frankel voting against it.

One month later, Commissioner Casale put forth another motion to open new negotiations with The Boca Museum. The proposal made meaningless a public charette to share ideas about Old School Square already scheduled for just 9 days later, on June 19, to determine what to do about Old School Square.

The difference between the prior defeated proposal and the new proposal was that Boca Museum agreed to collaborate with a small, family-owned Delray Beach publishing business championed by Commissioner Shirley Johnson.

So, this time around, Johnson switched her vote to “Yes” joining Casale and Petrolia to pass the Boca Museum motion 3-2.

Ultimately the Boca Museum decided against moving forward in negotiations presumably based on the outcry of Delray citizens and the lack of consensus within the city to determine how to manage the cultural campus.

Now Casale is again supporting the Boca Museum to run art classes out of the newly refurbished Crest Building without the benefit of public input to fully consider the consequences of Delray Beach relinquishing its unique identity in controlling the arts in its own backyard.

As many expected, the public outcry of a Boca Raton group managing one of Delray’s most historical and iconic cultural facilities has begun.

For More Reading:

Best Regards,

The Friends Of Delray Board

Judy Mollica - President

Steve English - Treasurer

Gregg Weiss - Secretary

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