UTSA and Southwest School of Art announce intent to combine art programs

The University of Texas at San Antonio and the Southwest School of Art on Monday announced their intent to combine their art programs for a new school slated to be open in downtown in the fall of 2022.

The governing bodies of both schools will consider the proposed move in November. 

According to a news release, the new school will be organized under the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts and will integrate the SSA’s Fine Arts program. The new art school also will include new programs and opportunities for students and the community, the release said.

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“We want to create an institution that will be bigger than the sum of its parts and be deeply beneficial for our students. We are so excited for the future,” UTSA president Taylor Eighmy said.

During the next year, officials will develop a curriculum that will take from both schools and introduce communications, digital and visual arts courses. The integration will expand UTSA’s fine arts program by about 10 percent, according to UTSA Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy. 

The hope is that one new art school will attract a broader range of students and inspire them to open businesses and contribute to the city’s downtown art scene, Espy said.

SSA, which opened its doors in 1965, has accreditation with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Its campus, located at 300 Augusta, is nationally recognized as a Texas Historic Landmark by the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2014, SSA became the only independent college of art in Texas with the addition of its Bachelor of Fine Arts program.

“What SSA has been able to accomplish in their existence is stupendous, their reputation, the quality of their staff and their studies are world-class,” Eighmy said. “We want to make sure we honor the past and ideate the future.”

The new school will keep the SSA branding in an effort to honor the vision and founders of SSA. Students, however, will graduate with a UTSA degree. 

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“The art departments in UTSA and SSA are already robust, but in the future this will allow us to include more interdisciplinary programming and technological development in the arts,” said SSA president Paula Owen. “The potential for this is hard to describe because there are so many hopes, dreams and open-ended possibilities for our future.”

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