The front entrance to SFAI's historic 800 Chestnut Street campus

Annual Report

Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2012-2013

Message from the President

Last spring, an article in Fast Company posed the question, “Is an MFA the New MBA?” Drawing on information from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, the author argued that artists have the most important skill to succeed in today’s increasingly complex, uncertain world: creativity.

At a time when education is being reduced to mere vocational utility, the San Francisco Art Institute is proud to be an incubator and laboratory for creative learners to experiment, strive, and thrive. While committed to providing exceptional undergraduate and graduate education to emerging artists — who continually amaze me with their talent and insight — SFAI has also been working to broaden its impact and re-assert its role as the “Institute” of its name. This vision positions the Institute as not only a school, but also a cultural hub that engages the public; a thought leader that propagates and promotes art, ideas, and scholarship; and a civic partner to advance the centrality of the arts in the Bay Area.

As you’ll see throughout this Annual Report, which covers the fiscal year from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, the past year contained major successes and laid the groundwork for future initiatives. Among many highlights, the Institute:

  • Approved a five-year Strategic Plan, establishing priorities ranging from investment in full-time faculty to comprehensive facilities planning
  • Launched a new annual art festival, combining an alumni reunion, blow-out party, and art sale into a major public event
  • Honored one of today’s most culturally relevant artists, the filmmaker (and SFAI alumna) Kathryn Bigelow, with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree at Commencement, where she spoke about the lasting impact of her art school education
  • Continued to build a top-notch leadership team, welcoming Dr. Rachel Schreiber as Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Hesse McGraw as Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs

Even as the Institute has amplified its activities, this fiscal year marked the fifth consecutive one with an operating surplus, which we used for major capital improvements and to create a new Diversity Scholarship. In the coming year, SFAI will strive to further improve its operations and heighten its ambitions in the service of art, artists, and the Bay Area community. Your support is crucial to that effort—thank you for your continued engagement.

Charles Desmarais


About SFAI

Since 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute, a nonprofit institution, has been a vital convening place for arts communities and an international leader in fine arts education. The Institute gratefully acknowledges the supporters who enable SFAI to continue serving both students and the general public through access to and engagement with contemporary artistic and cultural practices.

SFAI is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). SFAI is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).