How many students do you have, and what do you teach?
We currently enroll approximately 4,000 students in adult and youth classes on campus, and another 4,000 or so in classes throughout San Antonio schools and social service agencies. Anyone who is interested in studying the visual arts, in its many studio incarnations, is welcome to enroll. Each term we offer more than 100 classes in book arts, ceramics, drawing/painting, printmaking, fibers, metalsmithing/jewelry, photography – and a large variety of classes in other media and on visual arts topics.
What’s the learning environment like?
Most faculty hold advanced degrees and are qualified to teach at the college and university level, and our facilities are large, fully-equipped, and often exceed those available at many colleges.
How many people visit the campus each year?
More than 200,000 people participate in events at the school annually. They are children and adult students; local, regional and international visitors to the historic site and museum; art lovers viewing exhibitions; families enjoying the annual Fiesta Arts Fair or other campus events; patrons of the Copper Kitchen Cafe; and individuals and businesses renting facilities for celebrations or meetings.
Are there other places like the Southwest School of Art?
Yes, but none quite as large. We are unique because of our comprehensive adult studio program as well as our children’s program (both on- and off-campus) which is the largest visual arts program for youth in Texas. We are also unique because we teach so many art forms – traditional and contemporary – and present critically respected exhibitions.
How is the Southwest School of Art involved in the community?
Each year, we are teach visual arts at dozens of different schools and social service organizations – mostly in low income areas of San Antonio – through our Mobile Arts Program. Attendance at our MAP art classes exceeds 4,000 children a year. In addition, we regularly partner with numerous civic, arts-related and school groups, both local and nationally – typically we’ll work on more than 100 community collaborations each year.
When was the historic Ursuline Convent and Academy built?
The Ursuline Convent and Academy was founded in 1851 and was the first school for girls in San Antonio. It operated at this location until 1965, when the site was abandoned and the Ursuline Order opened a new school. In 1971, the Southwest School of Art moved to the buildings and grounds of the old Ursuline campus. The buildings are now on the National Register of Historic Places, and have won numerous historic preservation awards.
When was it restored?
Restoration and preservation began in 1971, but is a constant work-in-progress. To cite some examples, in 2005, all the second floor porches were completely rebuilt. The clock tower was re-built and restored in 2006; the Priest’s House underwent major work in 2007 that included new flooring throughout and a complete re-working of the stone exterior. In 2008, the convent perimeter wall was re-constructed, and in 2011 the chapel ceiling and roof were renovated. The art school estimates that it has spent about $25 million in historic maintenance and renovations since it took over the site.
What is the annual operating budget?
The annual operating budget is approximately $4 million; in addition, capital expenditures in the recent past have totaled $12 million.
How are you funded?
The Southwest School of Art is a 501(c)3 nonprofit institution. Revenue comes from a variety of sources. Approximately 50% of annual revenue is earned income (from tuition and fees, rentals, etc.) while 50% is memberships, contributions, and fundraising events. About 7% of the annual operating revenue comes from government sources.
How many employees do you have?
The School averages about 35 full-time employees. In addition, we hire approximately 120 teaching artists annually as independent contractors.
Why has your named changed?
The art school’s evolving scope over its nearly 50-year arc has been reflected in the evolution of its name. The original name, The Southwest Craft Center (1965-1998), was changed to the Southwest School of Art & Craft (1998-2010) when the retrofitted Navarro Campus was opened. That name was then shortened in 2010 to the Southwest School of Art.