Our mission is to preserve the future of Craft in America by saving OCAC – the last accredited independent Craft college in the United States.
We have decided to form the Council to Save OCAC to pursue all possible means of keeping the Oregon College of Art and Craft open and operating. It has been nine days since the announcement of OCAC’s intent to cease degree programs and close, in that time many groups of alumni, students, and community members have begun wondering if there is any possible way to keep this bastion of Craft and decades of tradition from closing its doors. We have been in touch with some of these groups and individuals. As of today we have talked with Stuart Emmons a local architect, as well as the Friends of OCAC and we have reached out through Facebook and Instagram to alumni interested in working with us.
There are plans in motion to begin a #SAVEOCAC #SAVECRAFT campaign to bring focus to the importance of Craft in the art world overall as well as the critical importance of OCAC in steering the future of American Craft. We have been asking alumni who have expressed interest in working with us to create posters and send us their stories about OCAC and why the school matters to them. These posters and stories are intended to be shared via social media, both Facebook and Instagram, along with two hashtags #saveocac and #ocacstories. Currently this is working to spread our campaign and gather volunteers but its main purpose is to spark discussion about Craft and the importance of OCAC remaining open.
Fundraising is going to be key in any successful plan to keep OCAC open. We are looking into many different routes to bring in enough money as well as forming a trust. We currently do not know a hard number for keeping the doors open and the lights on but after reviewing publicly available financial documents it is clear to us that the school is in dire financial straits. It is not going to be easy, and we can make no promises, but with a lot of hard work and bit of luck we believe that we can turn this situation around. The amount of money we’ll need to raise numbers is in the millions. We believe it is going to take a multitude of fundraising efforts – art auctions, crowdfunding, gallery takeovers, corporate sponsors, large donations – and these things will only be possible if we can generate enough of a conversation both locally and nationally to attract enough donors.
Keeping the school open is going to be a more complicated job than just finding enough money to pay some debt. Overall the operating model needs to be modified to increase enrollment, create a healthier environment, and commit to policies of transparent communication.
The Oregon College of Art and Craft is the last remaining accredited Craft college in the United States of America. The Art world cannot afford to lose the perspective on making that OCAC teaches its students and that they in turn bring into contemporary conversations on what it means to make. The thinkers, makers and artists who have come from OCAC have all been changed for the better because of the education we have received from our mentors and community. Craft matters because it brings the intrinsically human parts of making into our art – in a time when mass production and automation separates us from having connection to the objects we live with, and even communication becomes less about human interaction, we believe that it is critical to reconnect the human experience to craft and to keep conversations of the importance of Craft in our communities and the world.