Studio adds art classes to close deficit

The ASUC Art Studio, which has been on the UC Berkeley campus for over 50 years, plans to expand the amount of classes it offers in an effort to close its ongoing deficit.

Accordingly, the ASUC Store Operations Board discussed the future of the studio at its meeting last Wednesday. The studio’s current plan to address its budgetary problems is to generate additional revenue by creating more classes, thereby building a larger base of customers, according to Erik Scollon, the studio director. Raising the prices of classes is being considered but is not currently planned.

“The review by the board was aimed at seeing the progress we have made over the last three years in balancing the expenses to revenues of the studio, determining the appropriate level of subsidy to maintain an art center on campus and how to balance student participation and fees with those of other associate members,” said ASUC Auxiliary Director Nadesan Permaul in an email.

Scollon, who had previously worked as a studio technician, assumed the director position when Kate Wees, the previous director, took a job at the San Francisco Center for the Book in November 2010. Scollon said his first goal as director has been to make sure the studio is not running a deficit so it can cover its costs.

“We’ve been able to more than cover our direct costs, but the pressure from the indirect costs is the next hurdle to jump over,” Scollon said.

Ryan Landis, interim vice-chair of the board, said that though the board has considered closing the studio altogether in the past, doing so would not be financially prudent in the long run.

“If we discontinue, there would be a lot of start-up costs later,” Landis said. “We’re trying to think of whether students want this 10 years, 20 years from now, because there’s a lot of equipment we’d have to reacquire later, assuming we’d sold all the parts.”

As the studio has been expanding the amount of classes it offers gradually over the past couple of years, Scollon said he hopes a further expansion will help cover costs and allow the studio to serve a larger amount of customers.

According to Scollon, there were twice as many painting and drawing classes offered this year as were offered last year. This increase in the amount of classes offered will allow the studio to gain more customers and raise its revenue, he said.

Scollon also mentioned other potential funding models to help the studio close its deficit. Under one such model, students would vote to subsidize the studio’s services, which would allow the studio to offer them at a lower cost. Scollon said another solution would be efforts to increase the studio’s visibility on campus and to let students know about the services it offers.

“The other challenge we have is making students aware of this fantastic resource,” Scollon said. “It’s a resource a lot of students would take advantage of.”

Despite the financial difficulties the studio faces, Scollon said he is committed to ensuring that its services do not go away or rise in price.

“Raising prices for current students is my last option on the table,” he said. “I’m going to exhaust all my options before I do that.”

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