The San Francisco Artwork Institute, a legendary establishment teetering on the point of insolvency, mentioned it can shut down after the College of San Francisco backed out of an acquisition deal that was seen as a monetary lifeline for the 151-year-old artwork school and its cornerstone campus on Russian Hill.

An announcement issued by the workplace of USF President Paul Fitzgerald mentioned that the college had “knowledgeable SFAI management that it could not enter right into a definitive settlement with SFAI attributable to enterprise dangers that might impression USF college students, school, and workers.”

It additionally mentioned that USF would increase its personal artwork college as an alternative.

In a separate assertion, the Artwork Institute introduced Friday that it was “not financially viable” and that it had “ceased its diploma applications” as of Friday.

“SFAI will stay a nonprofit group to guard its identify, archives, and legacy.” The way forward for its Chestnut Avenue campus has not been decided however it can keep its Diego Rivera mural, the college’s chief asset.

USF’s announcement Friday places an finish to what would have been an uncommon mixture between two of the oldest institutes of upper studying within the Bay Space. USF was based as a Jesuit college in 1855 and the Artwork Institute (previously the California College of High-quality Arts) in 1871.

A potential merger of the 2 had been mentioned for years and seemed to be on observe in January when every of the colleges “signed a letter of intent to discover integrating operations and tutorial applications within the arts to raise the subsequent technology of artists,” in keeping with an announcement launched by USF and SFAI. The plan was for “built-in operations” to start out this fall.

“We imagine (the merger) can be an incredible profit to the Bay Space, the nation, and the world,” John Nicolai, chair of the USF board of trustees, mentioned on the time. “Collectively, the 2 establishments would create a premier arts curriculum, with an intensive studio setting and a significant liberal arts schooling.”

As a part of the deal, USF would have acquired the Artwork Institute’s historic buildings, artwork and movie collections and different property, college officers mentioned, together with the Anne Bremer Memorial Library, the Diego Rivera Gallery, exhibition area, studios, picture and movie labs and a rooftop amphitheater.

Nevertheless it was one thing not included within the proposed deal that will have been the insurmountable ingredient — the land underneath the campus. It’s a half sq. block of prime hillside actual property with bay views. Nevertheless it was donated by a benefactor in a sophisticated belief that deeds it to UC Berkeley within the occasion that it’s not used as an artwork campus.

Additionally talked about as causes to cancel the plan have been the Artwork Institute’s monetary standing, disappointing enrollment projections and prices of bringing the primary Chestnut Avenue campus as much as code and assembly ADA compliance.

“Whereas disenchanted by this consequence with SFAI, we stay dedicated to strengthening alternatives for our college students and school to discover the nice arts throughout the context of Jesuit schooling,” Fitzgerald mentioned.

The announcement got here simply days after the Artwork Institute held what is going to doubtless be its final commencement ceremony, concluding its summer time session. It additionally graduated a category final spring. However the tutorial program for the autumn semester had already been canceled earlier than the cope with USF unraveled. It’s not identified if functions will likely be accepted for the spring 2023 semester or any after that.

This marks the second time a proposed merger between the Arts Institute and USF has fallen by means of. The primary collapse got here in 2020 when talks fell aside even because the Artwork Institute was celebrating its a hundred and fiftieth anniversary. Then-president Gordon Knox was let go, as have been 69 adjunct school members, comprising nearly all of the educating workers. The 16 tenured school have been placed on discover that they’d be laid off.

The scholar physique, as soon as as giant as 700, had dwindled to 300 and people have been suggested to hunt switch. The Fort Mason campus was provided for sublease, with 50 years remaining on a 55-year grasp lease.

Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle workers author. E-mail: swhiting@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @SamWhitingSF





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