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UC San Diego May Lose Art Gallery

Photo caption: A 2013 exhibit at the University Art Gallery at UC San Diego.

Photo credit: UC San Diego

A 2013 exhibit at the University Art Gallery at UC San Diego.

The university's 50-year-old art gallery has not been funded for next year.

Funding for the 50-year-old UC San Diego University Art Gallery has been cut and its only full-time staffer let go after months of debate about budget priorities. There are no exhibits scheduled for next academic year, leaving the future of the space uncertain.

If the gallery closes, UCSD will become an anomaly among universities and community colleges.

"Every school and university has a gallery," said Ruben Ortiz-Torres, a professor in the university's Visual Arts Department and an advocate for keeping the space open. "In fact, all the major UC campuses have museums and art collections."

Ortiz-Torres cites UCLA's Hammer Museum and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive as examples. He says UCSD's visual arts program is exceptionally strong and one of the first conceptual art programs in the country. For that reason, he says it's important to have a gallery on campus.

Faculty and gallery staff have been negotiating with department heads for months, trying to ensure that the gallery is a priority in the budget.

The new dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, Cristina Della Coletta, said in a statement: "As of this July, the Dean's office and the Visual Arts Department have agreed to place the administrative and programmatic structure of the University Art Gallery on hold for the time being. Our discussions on the future plans for the Gallery will resume in the Fall. We are hopeful and optimistic that a sustainable plan can be developed."

But without any staff to run the gallery, Ortiz-Torres is worried talks will not be revived.

The University Art Gallery hosts about five exhibits a year. Students, faculty and outside artists show their work in the space.

The annual budget for the gallery is $250,000.

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