Crafters protest closing of UC San Diego art center

interim Director Joyce Rooks stands in the nearly empty front room of the crafts center. Ashley Mackin
interim Director Joyce Rooks stands in the nearly empty front room of the crafts center. Ashley Mackin

By Ashley Mackin

UC San Diego officially and suddenly closed its Crafts Center at 9500 Gilman Drive on Sept. 26, canceling the workshops, non-credit classes and exhibits typically held there.

Those who frequent the facility called the closure “heartbreaking” and “devastating,” and will fight the closure with online petition drives and planned fundraisers.

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interim Director Joyce Rooks stands in the nearly empty front room of the crafts center. Ashley Mackin

The instructors must leave the Crafts Center by Oct. 19.

“It’s pretty terrible; everyone found out their job was gone that day,” said jewelry teacher Tara Magboo.

Registration for jewelry making, glassblowing, ceramics, and other art classes was ongoing when the announcement came. It affected some 500 UCSD students, faculty and community members who use the Crafts Center each year. Those registered for classes this quarter will have their tuition refunded.

In a press release explaining the closure UCSD stated: “Rising costs have triggered the need for budget reductions in the University Centers [including the Crafts Center ], 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.”

Fighting back tears, Magboo said, “I think for a lot of people, it’s the community that is really special. Coming here is like a second family, it’s a very supportive environment, addition to being around other creative people, it’s nice community because you’re around people of varying experience, so I think that really enriches the environment.”

Interim Director Joyce Rooks said the Crafts Center is a wonderful place that enriches the campus. “A great research school like UCSD deserves to have a great arts facility. Our teachers are great, they’re standouts in their fields. We just really believe the university deserves to have something like this,” she said.

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sociology student Laura Pecenco shows off some jewelry she made at the Crafts Center. Ashley Mackin

Sociology graduate student Laura Pecenco agreed. “I think there is a lot of stress on this campus, it’s a very competitive environment. And while I think UCSD is an amazing school with really great academics, it’s really important to have something to parallel that, so I definitely use jewelry making as a stress reducer.”

Pecenco said she registered for two classes at the Crafts Center and built the rest of her schedule around them. She also said she was surprised when she received the campus-wide e-mail notifying students of the closure. “I think it’s very heartbreaking to have the Crafts Center close, it came as a huge shock to all of us here.”

Magboo said she didn’t like the way UCSD handled the closure. “I don’t really know what their thinking was ... I think it’s honestly, kind of inhumane,” Magboo said.

Pecenco and Royce each said they’re hopeful the space will reopen. In addition to fundraisers being planned, there are two petitions online requesting the reopening of the Crafts Center that will go to the chancellor, vice chancellor of student life and assistant vice chancellor.

Royce said she will meet with the Chancellor later this month to discuss fundraising efforts and present the petitions. With 13,000 signatures already between them, the petitions are available at http://bit.ly/craftcenter and signon.org/sign/save-the-ucsd-crafts

   
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