Chancellor Confirms University Art Gallery Will Not Become a Classroom

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Chancellor Pradeep Khosla confirmed that the University Art Gallery will no longer be considered to be converted into a classroom. However, the gallery currently has a budget of $0 for the next academic year, as it has for the last three years.  

During a visit to Associated Students of UCSD (ASUCSD) on February 28, Khosla clarified a 2016 incident where UCSD administrative staff refused to confirm or deny whether the gallery would remain open after discussion that it would be converted into a classroom.

“The year before, the EVC’s (Executive Vice Chancellor) Office decided to convert the Art Gallery into classroom space and this was done without consulting me,” Khosla said. “And when our faculty from Visual Arts got upset about [it]…right away there [were] going to be protests, [but] no one even told me about it. So when I found out, we put a stop to it.”

Students fought the closure with a petition that garnered 2,863 signatures. At the same time, graduate student duo Collective Magpie staged an art intervention and protest: “Dispossessed: A call to PRAYER AND PROTEST,” urging Khosla to intervene.

“You don’t just close a 50-year-old institution because you need classroom space,” former Gallery Director Merete Kjaer said an interview with The Triton in 2016, shortly after she was let go. “You don’t just close something that has a history and plays a role, for the sake of more classrooms.”

But despite Khosla’s claim that he invested more money in the University Art Gallery, the gallery still does not have any funding for the 2017-18 academic year, nor does it have any full-time staff.

“Not only did we put a stop to it, we invested more money in the art gallery,” Khosla told members of ASUCSD during the March 28 meeting. “Because…students need a place to exhibit their art…[and] all of us around need a place to go to just to be able to appreciate art.”

Khosla may have meant that he allocated more funding to the arts in general. According to Arts and Humanities Communications Director Anthony King, the university is currently allocating $67,000 in funds for the arts, supporting campus-wide programming. As for the gallery, “the Department of Visual Arts has already submitted a proposal for programming, which is currently being reviewed,” King said.

A proposal for the gallery was submitted to the Chancellor, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor, and Dean of Arts and Humanities in February of 2017, but the department has not heard back.  

Jack Greenstein, Chair of the Visual Arts Department, said that the Visual Arts Department was granted two years to use the gallery in 2016 for the Visual Arts @ 50 series, a celebration of the 50th year of the Visual Arts Department. That deal is going to end this year, leaving next steps for the gallery completely uncertain.

“The cost of the Visual Arts @ 50 series for two years was considerably more than this total, and was funded mostly by the Department,” he said. “Indeed, it was due to budgetary constraints that the programming for the current year was reduced in comparison to the previous year.”

The gallery will continue hosting shows regardless of an internal budget. “The Agency of Art,” the next exhibition in the University Art Gallery’s series Visual Arts @ 50: Art Into Life, will run from April 12 to May 24. An opening reception will be held April 12 at 5:30 p.m.

As for the proposal for the gallery and its budget, there is no word on what will come next.

“We have yet to receive a response,” Greenstein said. “I am glad that the Chancellor recognizes the importance of the UAG and is affirming his commitment to it. The Visual Art Department has not been informed of his plans, and is unaware of any funding for the the gallery. We are also unaware of programming or plans for programming it after June 2018.”

Gabe Schneider is the News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him on Twitter @gabemschneider

This article has been updated as of Friday, March 23 10:30 p.m. to correct the date Chancellor Khosla visited ASUCSD.