Factory Obscura, a for-profit company met with the Oklahoma City Council to study the details of its proposal to buy or lease a row of offices in Norman City. The property located about 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma is owned by OK City. It is currently being eyed by Factory Obscura as the new site for a forthcoming interactive art gallery.
During the session last Tuesday, Mayor Breea Clark asked the three co-founders of the company whether they prefer to purchase the property or lease it for long term. As it is, the city councilors are leaning on a long term lease but is also considering outright purchase provided the purchase agreement includes a buy-back clause. The clause will give Oklahoma City priority to buy the property before entertaining offers of other buyers, if and when the art company decides to sell the Norman City property.
Factory Obscura co-founder Laurant Massenat said that while they prefer a purchase deal, they are not discounting the possibility of agreeing to a long term lease.
Some Concerns Raised by the OK City Council
Some OK City Councilors asked about Factory Obscura’s business model and of its goals in relation to its expansion in Norman. Lee Hall, OK City’s Ward 4 councilor, specifically voiced concerns raised by local artists —- that the art company would compete with Norman City’s struggling artists in vying for opportunities and in applying for grant money.
Co-founder Kelsey Karper explained that the interactive art gallery intends to temporarily exhibit immersive and interactive collectibles for profit but with a goal to share a portion of the company’s profits to Norman City’s non-profit art community.
Keppler added that their mission is to make the pie larger for all artists by creating new opportunities and providing additional resources; adding that their goal will be the same for Norman City.
Co-founder Laura Phillips also gave assurance that Factory Obscura will not compete in vying for art grants and that they also intend to hire Norman City residents.
In providing a clearer picture about their plans, the three founders mentioned that they anticipate hiring up to 70 new employees in accordance with the anticipated annual traffic and success of its commitment to act as resource for Oklahoma’s local artists.
According to the Factory Obscura website, there are currently, 30 Oklahoma City artists who contribute to Factory Obscura’s art exhibits.