Breaking: Memphis College of Art announces plans to close

Memphis College of Art (MCA) is no longer admitting new students and will close at the conclusion of fulfilling its obligation to existing students who remain in good standing, the college announced on Tuesday. The college anticipates the wind-down will last through 2020. Citing declining enrollment, “overwhelming real estate debt,” and “no viable long-term plan for financial sustainability” the Board of Directors of Memphis College of Art voted to immediately stop recruiting new students and to make plans to close the college. “It is with great sadness that we move forward with this decision,” MCA board chair Henry P. Doggrell said. According to the college’s news release, MCA will begin the “orderly dissolution” of its real estate and other assets to fund its debt obligations and other liabilities, including providing funding to serve existing students who remain at MCA. MCA said the board, after a long process, determined that “an independent, private fine arts and design college is no longer financially sustainable in Memphis.” Over the last few months, the school’s leaders have cost cuts, but it was not sufficient to sustain operations beyond the current academic year without continued significant community support. Through the wind-down, MCA will continue to offer Community Education programs, including its new Fashion Certificate program, summer camps, and adult art classes. MCA’s Holiday Bazaar will also take place as scheduled on November 17-18, with proceeds funding existing student scholarships. “This has been a heartbreaking process,” said MCA interim president Laura Hine. “But, we remain proud of the creative energy MCA artists have long brought to Memphis and are eternally grateful to the donors and foundations who have sustained us throughout our 81-year history. The tremendous value of the artistic contributions made by MCA faculty, students and graduates, over many decades, simply can’t be captured in words.”