Art And Culture

18 US Art Institutions to Close by Yearend

 The Illinois Institute of Art, one of the closing schools The Illinois Institute of Art, one of the closing schools

Art students across the US are reeling in the face of recent news that their schools, part of the Art Institute system, will close by year’s end. Altogether, 18 schools are no longer accepting new students, including campuses in Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Detroit.

The parent nonprofit Dream Center Education Holdings, based in Los Angeles, cited declining enrollment as the reason for its decision. Dream Center purchased 31 Art Institute schools in early 2017 from Education Management Corp., a for-profit school operator in Pittsburgh, with the intention of converting the schools into nonprofits, Artnet reported.

“After a complete and thorough examination of the three education systems in the [Dream Center] network to ensure they are meeting the needs of today’s learners, we did not see demand growth for courses at these campuses,” Anne Dean, a spokeswoman for Dream Center, told the Mercury News.

“This decision was made for a number of reasons, including a shift in the demand for online programs in higher education and in student populations at the campuses, which have resulted in declining, unsustainable enrollment levels for campus-based programs in these markets.”

Last month, Education Management filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Delaware, claiming to have less than $50,000 in assets and between $500 million and $1 billion in debt. (Dream Center says there is no connection between the bankruptcy proceedings and the closures.) The former owners had previously been sued for consumer fraud in 2011, paying a $95.5 million settlement in 2015 and agreeing to forgive more than $102.8 million in debt from at least 80,000 former students.

Further complicating matters is the schools’ own recent transitions to nonprofit status, still pending the approval of the US Department of Education.

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