My View: Open letter to Oregon College of Art and Craft
The board of directors of the Oregon College of Arts and Craft is meeting on March 1 to consider closing the longtime arts institution. We, Save OCAC, inc., respectfully ask that the board delay accepting any offers to purchase the campus of OCAC that would result in the closure of the school.
This school is important. This campus is important. The faculty and staff that make up this institution are important. We recognize that the school is in dire financial straits, and know that this decision to end degree programs has been deliberated on already, and likely at length. But, not once was the community that OCAC has created consulted on how to avoid this disaster. This school specializes in many ways of making, but across every discipline it sends every student off into their futures with the strongest creative problem solving skill-set that anyone could ask for. We, the students and alumni, are this board's greatest resource and we can turn this situation around if given a chance.
Without being consulted or given forewarning as to the actions the board was considering the students have been thrust into a state of confusion and despair. They feel as if they've lost control over their futures and have been betrayed by an institution they have dedicated years of their life and tens of thousands of their dollars to. Below is a portion of a statement from the student body that explains their current mindset. We would like you to read it and consider their experiences going forward:
With the news of the closing, many current students have been so distraught by the information that they cannot carry out their daily work both within and outside of the institution. There was not sufficient time immediately following the board's decisions for students to fully grasp the ramifications of the announcement and work through it with school provided counselors.
Students are expected to carry on with regular activity at the college while feeling like their efforts here have lost all value and purpose. We cannot perform at the same level that the school expects of us while working through the turmoil that we are experiencing.
We don't get to put this down at the end of the day. This school is our lives.
We are hoping the board will come to a decision that will keep the best interests of current faculty, staff, students and alumni in mind. It is important that their decision ensures the continual use of the campus for the benefit of post-secondary Art and Craft education. The knowledge held within this institution is irreplaceable and this will be a deep loss to the creative community nationwide.
This is your opportunity as Trustees of an important pillar of Craft to save this institution or destroy it. There are more paths forward than complete closure and dissolution. Hear what we, alumni, students, and arts community, have to say. Give us a chance to save this school, everything that it means to us, to Portland, and to the Art world.
We sincerely thank you for your time.
Save OCAC President Jessica LeDuc and Vice President Tess Beauchamp-Rheault.
Save OCAC, Inc. was previously known as the Council to Save OCAC.
President Jessica LeDuc is a photographer and printmaker working in Portland, Oregon. She holds a BFA in Craft with a concentration in photography from the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Her work sits mostly in the realm of activist art, with a focus on feminism.
Vice President Tess Beauchamp-Rheault is a Painter who graduated with a BFA in Craft in Drawing and Painting from OCAC in 2018. She lives and works in Portland, OR.
Save OCAC, inc. nonprofit has been formed to pursue all possible means of keeping the Oregon College of Art and Craft open and operating.