Letters to the Editor

Week of April 25, 2001

The claims in Mr. Smith's article regarding our facility, instructors, and staff are simply untrue -- not surprising since the sources are anonymous and, where identified, are former, rather than current, employees. We invite Mr. Smith to talk with our faculty members, who are justified in being terribly insulted by Mr. Smith's jibe that their loyalty is "veneer-thin" -- a claim refuted by their long tenure. The academy's employees are highly capable, and its instructors are at the top of their profession. Like other quality employers, the academy provides its employees with compensation and benefits consistent with their expertise, and creates a stimulating academic atmosphere in which to work and teach.

The academy is best portrayed by the accomplishments of its faculty and students. We invite your readers to attend our annual Spring Show (May 24) or our annual Fashion Show (May 21), or to take one of our daily tours. Words cannot replace seeing our jaw-dropping facilities, outstanding professional instructors from all over the world, award-winning student work, and dedicated faculty and staff.
Elisa Stephens
President, Academy of Art College
San Francisco

Art and soul: The portrayal of the Academy of Art College ("The Art of the Deal," Matt Smith, April 4) was very one-sided and therefore not terribly accurate. I attended the academy for five years and found what you wrote to be true in some cases. The academy owners do appear to only care about money. But did you try walking around the school and speaking to students? A lot of students do come to the school without any art experience. But, the reality of the art world as a business quickly sinks in, and anyone who thought being an artist would be easy learns that the only way to be good is to work hard all the time.

The level of the best artwork there is extremely high, and those who cannot keep up either switch to something else or work even harder. When students graduate and are placed in well-known studios and companies, it is because of the quality of their portfolios and their own effort in looking for work, not because the academy finds places for them. Those badly paid teachers who stay do so because they love teaching to students who are passionate about learning. So, say what you want about the academy's money-scheming ways by quoting angry ex-employees. But the heart and soul of that school lie elsewhere.
Cheryl de los Reyes Cruz
Alameda

He's suffered for his art: Your article was a breath of fresh air. It's the best portrayal of the academy I've read yet. I was a student there for about 2 1/2 years in the computer arts department. The administration brags about how they hire artists working in the industry to teach, but there are only a few of those. Several instructors when I was there were students who had just graduated the semester before. Many instructors would voice complaints to the students about how they got paid so poorly they didn't know why they continued there.
Name Withheld
Sunset District

Power and Authority

We're thinking, we're thinking:I don't care if the Bay Guardianhasn't disclosed its financial backing of the MUD initiative ("MUD in Your Eye," Mecklin, April 4). None of the other players in the electric power debacle disclosed their vested interests, so what's the point of introducing ethics at this late date? You're exploiting this crisis to smear your journalistic rival.

There's a lot more at stake here than the narrow cost-benefit analysis you present. We're in big trouble because the Wilson administration handed over control and pricing of electrical power generation to greedy corporate speculators. Putting control back into the hands of a publicly accountable local government must be the first order of business. Or perhaps you think we should place our trust in the invisible hand of a rigged, cutthroat market?

Before you object to the creation of yet another government agency, let's just agree that they're typically inefficient and unresponsive, a banal lesser evil. But ask yourself this question: Would you rather be oppressed by a petty government bureaucracy or raped by ruthless corporate predators?
Lee Powell
Oakland

Clarification
In our cover story "Delusions of Power" (April 4) we wrote that the San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission had "voted unanimously" at its meeting on March 1 to exempt itself from following the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance, which governs public access to meetings and records. The commissioners did agree to follow the less strict open government provisions of a state law called the Brown Act, but they did not vote on the motion. The agenda item was continued to the next meeting because it had not been publicly noticed for the 72 hours required by the sunshine law. At the April 5 meeting, subsequently, the original motion to exempt the commission from following San Francisco's sunshine law was amended to require the LAFCO to "abide by the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance." The motion passed.

Editor's Note
Last week's Night & Day section mentioned that the play Apertura Modottiwas scheduled to preview Wednesday, April 18, at the Brava Theater Center. However, due to a medical emergency, previews will begin on Wednesday, April 25. Opening night is Saturday, April 28.

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