I wanted to respond to Jack Spillane’s opinion piece where he warns that New Bedford will lose if CVPA continues on the path of emphasizing design courses over studio art classes.

I took four years of fine art classes at CVPA in the mid-2000s, mostly held at the Star Store. It was a terrific place to learn and work, and the energy for the city was palpable as Jack nostalgically remembers. But even then, over 15 years ago, there was a lot of talk amongst the students about the twin threats of trying to afford college and the prospects of not being able to obtain a decent job with a fine arts education. And they cited pressure from their parents even then about paying for their choice of courses.
It’s not just the money pressures alone that’s at work here — it’s also the fact that the art world has changed and expanded to offer many more paths to explore one’s creativity.

As Anastasia Lennon points out in her article, this is a national trend that is being reflected in our community at all three local institutions of higher learning. CVPA is trying to respond to the new times — which includes providing spaces and tools for students to perfect their craft.

I think it’s a narrow definition of artists to confine it to just painting, printmaking and sculpture. The curricula is not “diminishing artists” — it’s trying to develop and respond to new kinds of artistic expression. And those new artists are just as likely to live and thrive in New Bedford as the previous ones.

I am as nostalgic as Jack is about the good old days, but on a recent tour of the Star Store, I was disheartened by all the empty spaces and unused equipment. I think it’s smart to look ahead and prepare the space for the next 20 years for what’s new and possible on the art scene, and what is in high demand in the future.

— Allan Ditchfield, Mattapoisett

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