Alumni, art lovers working to save Memphis College of Art

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A petition to keep Memphis College of Art is gaining momentum, despite the school's decision to close by May 2020.

The "Save Memphis College of Art" petition on has more than 3,000 signatures, with a goal of 5,000.

The private college's trustees voted in October to close because of dropping enrollment and millions of dollars in debt. But alumni and other supporters don't want to see the college close.

"I would not be who I am today without that school," MCA alumni Tootsie Bell said.

Bell now owns her own jewelry shop, a business she said she could've never started without the lessons she learned at MCA. That's why she started the Save the MCA campaign.

"We're going to need funding. We're going to need the raise the capital to implement our plan," Bell said.

The campaign's goal is to raise $20 million to keep the college afloat for years to come.

"If Memphis College of Art isn't here, kids that are growing up are going to have to go somewhere else for this education. And culturally, and creatively and visually, it's going to impact our community," Bell said.

Bell isn't the only one with an idea to keep the art making spirit alive. Local artist Dorothy Collier and fashion designer Abby Phillips have teamed up and created a new non-profit organization that can step in and fill the void that will be created when the college closes.

The new non-profit group is called Memphis Area Creative Collaborative, and its founders said it will step in and offer artistic opportunities (like materials and classes) to keep the artistic creativity in the community alive.

"We really hope to be that hub for people to come together and experience artwork and art making," Collier said.

"It'll be a space that you can walk into and automatically feel that sense of creativity and pride for Memphis," Phillips said.

Bell said she likes the idea of a group to help foster the creative spirit if the college closes, but her first focus is saving the college.

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