SAN ANTONIO – The Southwest School of Art in total has 4,000 students at the college level, along with adults in continuing education and youth in art programs. It’s also known as a beautiful event space, but the pandemic has been tumultuous to its financial situation.
“Almost all of our income, both contributed and earned income through tuition, rentals and all the other revenue streams, it just dried up immediately,” Paula Owen, President of the Southwest School of Art said.
Students were back on campus in the fall, however, it looked very different. The pandemic forced faculty and students to learn in different ways. Sometimes the classes were virtual and other times not as many people were in the studios, with faculty and students going to the exhibition halls for a larger space.
Owen said making the decisions to close their exhibition halls to the public, and losing money through their rentals, has been difficult.
“We reduced our personnel by 20 percent, we cut our budget by 30 percent,” Owen said. “Most people took pay cuts. We had to terminate some people, and put some people on furlough.”
Owen said the best way the community can help local art institutions is with contributions, but most importantly awareness is needed for why we need arts and culture in San Antonio.
“Art and culture are the heart of San Antonio. I think everyone knows that intuitively, but I don’t think they remember that through the pandemic that arts and artists are suffering. It’s not just about a performance, an object, a painting on a wall, it’s not about things. It’s their ability to connect and communicate with people. Those are skills that make our society better and more humane,” Owen said.