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Jacoby Arts Center offers public forum in midst of Alton tattoo debate

From Illinois Business Journal news services

ALTON – A public discussion of the growing tattoo culture will take place May 6, just a week before a significant Alton City Council vote on the subject.

The Jacoby Arts Center will hold a forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday to engage the community in a discussion of “What is Art?,” in response to recently expressed opinions on the tattoo debate.

The forum will be moderated by Lewis and Clark Community College professor of art, history and culture Jim Price. It will will include: Eric Gray, a hybrid media artist and adjunct professor at Principia College; Grand Piasa Body Art owner Chris Hinkle; Meredith Elliott, entrepreneur and co-owner of The Milton Schoolhouse; and Ron Abraham, a retired Southern Illinois Unversity Edwardsville professor who is an opera singer and conductor.

“I see this as an opportunity for Jacoby Arts Center to be a catalyst for constructive dialogue and sharing of diverse opinions about art, urban revitalization and a vision for our future,” said Denny Scarborough, president of the Jacoby Arts Center board.

The Alton Telegraph reported recently that the City Plan Commission had rejected a proposed amendment to the City Code that would allow tattoo parlors in the city’s downtown commercial district with a special-use permit.

Hinkle, owner of Grand Piasa Body Art, 3094 Homer Adams Parkway, had sought the zoning change, hoping to eventually get a special-use permit as part of a plan to move his business into two buildings he wants to buy at 558 and 560 East Broadway, just west of Henry Street.

The newspaper reported that hundreds of people have signed an on-line petition supporting the tattoo shop moving to East Broadway. The Plan Commission’s negative recommendation will be considered by the City Council on Wednesday, May 13.

Scarborough said Jacoby is not taking a position on the subject, but serving as host of the discussion.

“I want to emphasize that the participants represent their individual opinions,” Scarborough said in a press release. “Our community-oriented organization has not and will not take an official position in this matter as we seek to encourage inclusion and appreciation of all forms of artistic expression.”

The nonprofit Jacoby Arts Center is at 627 East Broadway, a short distance from the buildings that Hinkle said he wants to buy.

The mission of the Jacoby Arts Center is to nurture and promote the practice and appreciation of the arts through education, exhibits, cultural programs, and community outreach initiatives.

For more information about the forum, contact Scarborough at (618) 570-3519.

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