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SCADs of Interesting Arts College News


by Jerome Weeks 29 Jul 2008

The bottom item in Steve Brown’s business column in the Dallas Morning News on July 18 announced that “the Savannah College of Art and Design has considered the vacant West End Marketplace and an adjoining building for the site of a new downtown Dallas campus.” Here’s hoping it happens. It could be a huge addition […]

CTA TBD

The bottom item in Steve Brown’s business column in the Dallas Morning News on July 18 announced that “the Savannah College of Art and Design has considered the vacant West End Marketplace and an adjoining building for the site of a new downtown Dallas campus.”

Here’s hoping it happens. It could be a huge addition to Dallas’ cultural community, to the downtown scene. Certainly, it’d be the best thing to hit those old bricks since …  the Old Spaghetti Warehouse?

For those who don’t know, SCAD is a hot, private fine arts college these days. My daughter seriously considered applying there, and we looked into it.

Which is why I know: One reason SCAD has such a rep among small fine arts colleges is that since its start in 1978, it has been involved with renovating and preserving Savannah’s historic buildings. The Georgia town has become a trendy tourist spot for its many antebellum and Victorian restorations, and SCAD’s downtown campus now consists of 60 of those buildings, including several on the old town square, many bought when they were thoroughly derelict. So SCAD’s interest in the West End Marketplace makes sense.

The college is practically a one-stop arts scene: It has 10 galleries, owns two historic theaters, runs its own week-long film festival, hosts a sidewalk arts festival. Notable grads include soul singer India.Arie, graphic novelists the Luna Brothers and Rene Perez, lead singer for the hip hop-reggaeton band, Calle 13.

You get the picture: It’s the grown-up, college-age version of Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet High School. Imagine a piece of that next door to the Arts District.

What’s more …

For all of its renovating-historic-buildings rep, SCAD has made something of a splash in the past decade with its wholesale embrace of new technologies inside the classroom (degree programs in motion graphics, interactive design and broadcast design) and out (its SCAD-eLearning courses online). Kaplan’s called it one of the “25 cutting-edge schools with an eye toward the future.”

It already has “outlying” campuses in Atlanta and Lacoste France, so the West End could make a nice, balancing, Southwest addition. Besides, one reason the college has done all this just in the past couple of decades is that it’s supposed to have SCADs of money.

So how Dallas is that?

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  • Alan

    We visited Savannah for a few days in 2006, and I was impressed with what SCAD has been able to do to help bring vitality to the city’s already-interesting downtown area. You’ve got all the squares and southern culture (think “Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil”), but now all that is interspersed with galleries, arts venues, sidewalk cafes and other things you’d associate with a vibrant cultural scene.

    Let’s hope they can bring some of that to the West End, which has seemed somewhat down at the heels in recent years.

  • Bill M.

    Interesting what effect this will have on the Meadows School and other local college art programs. Is a university setting the best place to train visual artists and designers? Are places like SCAD better because they come close to an apprenticeship system? A study of the Chicago Art Institute program many years ago found that vanishingly few graduates went on to become working artists. Some became elementary and high school art teachers; most simply vanished from the art scene. It would be interesting to hear from working artists how well they think their training served them.

  • Here’s the deal. I just graduated from SCAD in Savannah and let me just say, SCAD is truly a one of a kind amazing school. For them to open a campus here in Dallas will do wonders for the community!