UPDATE: Former students, faculty react to closure of Atlanta Art Institute
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - After nearly 75 years, the Art Institute of Atlanta sent a stunning announcement to students Friday night, announcing it will close at the end of September.
The announcement has sent a shockwave through the Atlanta art community.
“The art scene in Atlanta is enormous,” said Mindy Spritz, the Director of the Abernathy Arts Center in Sandy Springs. “It has exploded.”
Spritz has spent her decades-long art career in Atlanta, part of it as an instructor at the Art Institute of Atlanta.
“[Art is] always changing, and change is very, very exciting,” she said.
But a change at the Art Institute has brought a change neither she nor anyone else in the art community wanted.
The Art Institute sent an email to students Friday, saying the school will close its doors for good on Sep. 30, partly blaming tough conditions arising from the pandemic.
“I was expecting it but wasn’t expecting it,” said 2018 graduate Fabian Herrera.
He says the signs have been there for a while, citing constantly shifting ownership, faculty layoffs, and the elimination of student housing.
“When I first started going, I really enjoyed it,” Herrera said. “During the end of my career there, it kinda started going downhill.”
On driving up to the Art Institute on Saturday, Herrera was surprised to find the gates to the property locked, something he said never happened when he was a student.
Those locks could create a gap in the Atlanta art scene.
“Those majors and those students who graduated fed all the industry fed all the industries here in Atlanta,” Spritz said.
But for now, students are scrambling, graduates are left wondering what might have been, and the industry trying to figure out what’s next.
“Atlanta is a resilient town,” Spritz said.
The Art Institutes will be closing its doors for good, including its campus in Atlanta, the school announced on Friday.
According to the school’s website, all campuses and all of their respective branch campuses will be permanently closed as of September 30. That includes campuses in Miami, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Tampa and Virginia Beach.
The private art school owned by the Education Principles Foundation did not mention the reason for the closure. The school was one of 153 named in Sweet v. Cardona, a lawsuit seeking to stop certain students of for-profit colleges such as the Art Institutes from receiving debt relief. The Supreme Court refused to block the relief.
That relief stemmed from borrower defense, a federal rule that allows students to seek relief if they believe their school has lied to them.
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