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UCSD Craft Center Closure

Abrupt Closure Surprises Instructors And Students

Above: Turtle necklace made by Michael Chu at the UCSD Crafts Center.

Aired 10/22/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Joyce Rooks, Interim Director of the UCSD Craft Center

Laura Pecenco, grad student who uses the center


After 40 years of operation on the campus of UCSD the Crafts Center was abruptly shut down on September 26. The Crafts Center was in the midst of fall quarter registration, brochures had been printed and mailed, the schedule posted online, and students were signing up for courses.

The reasons for the closure were listed on the UCSD Website:

University Centers provides annual funding for the UCSD Crafts Center and is responsible for the facility that houses the program. While the Crafts Center generates income from its classes, workshops, and other activities, it does not generate enough income to cover all of its expenses, even with the additional funding provided by University Centers.

It costs approximately $594,000 to operate the Crafts Center. On a two year average, the Crafts Center generates revenues of approximately $377,000 through its classes, holiday sales, gallery shop sales, and the Tshirt Factory. University Centers has provided $155,000 to $157,000 annually in support of the Crafts Center. This year, the University Centers would have to contribute an estimated $205,000 - $217,000 for the Crafts Center operations to break even. These numbers do not address the $1.5 million in Crafts Center facility maintenance projects identified by the ISES Corporation, an independent third-party expert in facilities management and assessment.

Christine Clark, University Communications & Public Affairs, sent an email to KPBS since no one from the University was available to appear on the show and stated:

The UCSD Crafts Center will be closed during the 2012-13 academic year pending resolution of budget shortfalls and renovations needed to the Crafts Center facility. Workshops, non-credit classes and art exhibits through the Crafts Center will not be offered this academic year.

The Crafts Center is funded by the University Centers, which operates the Price Center and Student Center facilities. Rising costs have triggered the need for budget reductions in the University Centers, which is funded primarily by the University Centers student fee. Decisions about reductions were based on students' priorities and their usage of University Centers programs, service and facilities.

Anticipated expenses related to facility renovations were factored into the decision. A recent facility condition analysis of the Crafts Center identified $1.5 million in needed renovation work.

This year, the University Centers will work with student leaders in the University Centers Advisory Board, Associated Students and Graduate Student Association to explore options for funding, renovating and reopening the Crafts Center.

However, if you scroll down to the bottom of the UCSD web page it also says: "The Crafts Center closure may become permanent."

Joyce Rooks is the Interim Director of the Crafts Center. She says she understands the reasons for the closure but was taken by surprise as to how it was handled. She says that the center provided unique craft skills such as neon and glass blowing that students will not be able to get easily or as inexpensively elsewhere. Royce points to the movement STEAM NOT STEM, about the importance of returning arts to the national curricula, as just one more reason for keeping this facility open and readily available to students.

Laura Pecenco is a sociology major and grad student at UCSD. This would have been her fourth year using the Craft Center for jewelry making. She was so angered by the closure that she started an online petition (and here's the link for the petition if you are not a FaceBook user). She already has more than 1500 signatures between the two petitions.

Rooks says that the decision has been devastating not just for the students and community members that use the facility but also for the couple dozen instructors that make their living teaching here and some who use the space as a studio.

Here is the UCSD Guardian article on the closure. The Craft Center website includes links to the facility condition analysis report, fire inspection report, tree report, and the structural engineering report (coming soon). The website will serve as a portal for additional information and progress reports.

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Avatar for user 'kathyprzekopp'

kathyprzekopp | October 22, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

I am quite distressed to hear of the UCSD Crafts Center closing. I am an older student becoming an artist in this later phase of my life. I have long been taking art classes at Mesa College, however, because of budget restrictions, the limited classes there may be taken only one time. This is of particular concern as a Ceramics student, because becoming a skilled Ceramics artist takes a great deal of time. My cohorts and I have taken ceramics classes at the UCSD Crafts Center when classes at Mesa were terminated during the summer. I may speak for all of us when I say I've been holding the Crafts Center as my personal ace-in-the-hole, to look toward when I've used up my Mesa class quota. To have this option removed is extremely disappointing.

I have previously taken jewelry classes at the Crafts Center and have looked forward to the time that I may take art welding. The Crafts Center is one of the few places where welding is taught as an art form. The same may be said for working with neon. As was said on the radio discussion, I have looked forward in my art work to combining clay, metal, glass and jewels, eventually coming up with some distinctive style of my own. The Craft Center closing significantly hinders that goal.

The closing of the UCSD Crafts Center significantly impacts the quality of life available to a person in later years, living on a fixed income, seeking to grow creatively in this vital third act of one's life. I can only hope that this decision will be reconsidered.

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Avatar for user 'sjmeyers'

sjmeyers | October 22, 2012 at 4 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

I think that it is not only a tragedy, but shortsighted for UCSD to close the Craft Center. As I understand it, through class fees and occasional fundraisers, the Craft Center subsidized much of its costs. Furthermore, as the interviewee, Laura indicated, those classes contribute towards entrepreneurship, something vital for the overall economic development of the larger San Diego community.

Lastly, I would like to know if there are ways we can contribute directly towards keeping the Craft Center open. Will they be hosting a fundraiser where we can purchase crafts as Christmas gifts?

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Avatar for user 'Steve Spencer'

Steve Spencer | October 23, 2012 at 1:19 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

The Crafts center did not subsidize much of its' costs.
The article states it costs half a million dollars a year to operate the Craft
Center, and much of that was coming from student fees.

Also there is 1.5 million dollars in renovation work that is required to keep it open.

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