By Alex Barreira – Staff Reporter, San Francisco Business Times
Jul 15, 2022 Updated Jul 15, 2022
After more than 150 years, the end is nigh for the San Francisco Art Institute.
The private college, founded in 1871, announced Friday it plans to shutter after the University of San Francisco backed out of a potential acquisition deal that would keep the financially struggling institution and its Russian Hill campus afloat — the second merger negotiation to fall through since the onset of the pandemic.
USF President John Fitzgerald said in a statement that the university had “informed SFAI leadership that it would not enter into a definitive agreement with SFAI due to business risks that could impact USF students, faculty, and staff.” The statement also said USF will start building its own art school, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In a separate statement the Art Institute said it was “no longer financially viable” and as of Friday has “ceased its degree programs” but will continue on as a nonprofit organization “to protect its name, archives, and legacy.”
The school will leave its campus at 800 Chestnut St., according to the Chronicle. SFAI said in its statement it is “actively working with local and international donor communities” to protect its prized asset, the Diego Rivera Gallery, which SFAI will lose possession of should it default or lose its lease on the building. The University of California owns the land itself, owing to the agreement that established SFAI’s use of the campus.
“The passing of this venerable institution is a loss for the entire art world, especially for SFAI’s friends, colleagues, and SFAI artists: its students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” the school’s board of trustees said in its announcement.
In January USF and SFAI signed a letter of intent to explore integrating the two schools, with the intention of beginning programs this fall. The proposal would reportedly have USF acquiring the Art Institute’s historical buildings, art and film collections and other assets, such as the Anne Bremer Memorial Library and Diego Rivera Gallery, as well as exhibition space, studios, photo labs and a rooftop amphitheater.
However, the sides were unable to agree on the future for the land of the campus itself — a half square block of prime hillside real estate with bay views. That land was donated to SFAI via a trust that turns the land over to UC Berkeley in the event the land is no longer used as an art campus.
In May the Art Institute held the graduation ceremony for what will likely be its last class.
In 2020 SFAI’s graduate campus at Fort Mason Center closed and was put on the market for sublease with 50 years left on its 55-year lease. The campus had reopened in 2017 following a $14 million makeover.
And, who is the guy in the middle, circa 1968?
Edgar Boyles all cleaned up and ready to visit his parents for Xmas
undercover Ranger and A+ student of the semester class
“Astronauts of Inner Space”