City & Art Museum Announce Commitment To Host Ceramics Instruction

Move Would Keep Some CVPA Students In Downtown

New Bedford, MA – In the wake of UMASS Dartmouth’s abrupt closure of the downtown campus of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) in the Star Store building, Mayor Jon Mitchell and Executive Director of the New Bedford Art Museum, Suzanne de Vegh, are announcing their commitment to hosting instruction of students enrolled in the CVPA ceramics program.

The New Bedford Art Museum, located in a City-owned building at 608 Pleasant Street, hosts a kiln on the basement level which is suitable to support ceramics instruction for a limited number of ceramics students.  Students in the ceramics program discovered recently that the University was relocating them from the Star Store building in the heart of downtown New Bedford to a strip mall storefront in North Dartmouth formerly occupied by the retailer Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

Today’s announcement by the City and Art Museum comes in response to the widespread opposition from students, faculty, and the community to both the closure of the downtown campus and the decision to host the ceramics program in the strip mall.  New Bedford had been home to CVPA and the CVPA’s predecessor, the Swain School of Design, for more than one hundred and twenty years.  (The CVPA merged with the Swain School in 1988 and moved into the Star Store building in 2001.)

Mayor Mitchell used today’s announcement to reiterate his commitment to exploring all options for keeping the CVPA in New Bedford, including scenarios in which the City itself plays a role.  Last week, the Mayor announced his willingness to have the City takeover ownership of the Star Store building if it might help to break the current impasse between the University, state agencies, and the building’s owner, provided that local taxpayers were protected.

“In our effort to maintain the CVPA in the City, this is a step in the right direction.  Much more will need to fall into place for the CVPA to be re-activated here, but we are working hard to make that happen.  I am grateful to Suzanne de Vegh and the New Bedford Art Museum Board of Directors for their stepping up,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell.

New Bedford Art Museum Executive Director Suzanne de Vegh said, “A partnership with the CVPA is a natural relationship.  Part of The Art Museum’s mission is to collaborate with fellow members of the arts and culture community in the region, and we feel a close affinity and respect for the CVPA program.  Our clay studio facilities are clearly suitable to support elements of ceramics instruction, including, for example, the CVPA’s undergraduate course on Wheel Throwing.”

Suzanne de Vegh added, “The Art Museum wants to encourage UMass CVPA’s continued presence in downtown New Bedford, and is ready and willing to lend support in ways that make sense for both organizations.”