Read the text below.
The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), one of California’s top art schools, announced its indefinite closure after operating for almost 150 years.
The art school was founded in 1871 and is the country’s sole school for fine arts that is dedicated to modern art. Last March, SFAI released a letter stating that classes will be suspended starting May and that it will not admit students for the fall semester. In addition, the school’s faculty and staff were advised to prepare for layoffs.
Students eligible for graduation this semester will still receive their academic degrees from the school. However, those who are not able to graduate were encouraged to transfer to another school.
SFAI’s current poor financial situation was a main factor behind the school’s decision. Three years ago, the art school spent millions of dollars to build a second campus in San Francisco. This year, the school built new dormitories. These expenses caused the school to go into debt, and SFAI’s board chair estimated the school’s total debt to be around $19 million.
Months before its 150th anniversary, SFAI had been in talks with a more financially stable university for a merger. However, the business transaction did not happen because of the coronavirus pandemic. To get back on its feet, the school considered selling a painting in its gallery worth $50 million.
SFAI’s students and faculty expressed their sadness about the announcement, but they are hoping that the school will get through this crisis.
The school also released a public statement urging readers to donate to its emergency fund. Well-known members of the San Francisco art scene signed the statement and offered their support.