Memphis College of Art to shut down

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis College of Arts is making plans to close.

The school has voted to stop recruiting new students immediately and will begin the process to close the school, citing declining enrollment, overwhelming real estate debt, and no viable long-term plan for financial stability.

MCA will continue to operate while existing students finish out their degrees.

The exact time period for the school's closing is not solidified, but the school expects to shut down by May 2020.

"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."

Read the full statement below:

Hine cited the school's $6.9 million debt after purchasing property along Poplar Avenue and expanding their campus as a reason for the closure.

A few dozen freshman won't have enough credits to graduate from MCA by 2020, but the college will help them transfer.

"I just don't want everyone who has become this art community and this community to leave the city," MCA senior Virginia Riley said. "I'm afraid that professors and everyone I have come to consider as mentors will leave Memphis."

The news comes after Memphis Brooks Museum of Art's intentions to leave Overton Park. While the thought of two vacant buildings in the park is already bringing thoughts of doom to some, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland issued a statement of reassurance that the city will work with Overton Park to keep the area a boom to the city.

School leaders said they're working with the city and the Overton Park Conservancy to find out how the building will be used.

The school will keep its accreditation.

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