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Arts Council Director Steps Down

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P. David Romei's name can be seen prominently on the side of the Arts Center building, but his fingerprints will be left on the area as a whole for years to come.

Romei resigned as executive director of the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley Monday.

Often reluctant to speak but unreluctant to act, Romei became executive director in March 1998. The council touts a doubling of affiliates during his tenure, as well as an annual budget that has gone from $200,000 to $1.2 million. Some two-dozen pieces of art have come to the Brazos Valley through the council's work during Romei's tenure, they say.

In a statement, council president Netta Simek said, "The Arts Council of the Brazos Valley is the most admired council in Texas and Dr. Romei, as informal dean of local non-profit organizations, has demonstrated professionalism and distinguished leadership for the entire community.

But the work Romei did also spurned it's share of controversy, especially when it came to the recent elections, where a perceived business vs. the arts rivalry permeated the debates.

This was never more apparent than in the hottest campaign of the summer, when Ron Gay defeated incumbent Robert Wareing, an ardent supporter of the arts. In fact, there were even election night allegations of Wareing and Romei stealing Gay campaign signs, allegations that could not be substantiated.

Gay and Mayor Ron Silvia reacted Monday before the council meeting.

"He has done so much for this community in the form of arts and building all the affiliates," said Silvia.

"I haven't always agreed with Dr. Romei or his methods," Gay said, "but I think he should be commended for what he's done here."

There is no word tonight on who or how a new executive director will be found.

Attempts to contact Romei were unsuccessful. It is also as yet unknown as to why he stepped down.