Sunday, May 27, 2007

Civic Center Weekend 1: We Love Art and Money

A crowd of well-wishers was standing outside of Bill Graham Auditorium at the Civic Center late Friday morning...

...waiting for Academy of Art University graduates to finish with their commencement ceremonies inside.

The Academy of Art is a strange institution that seems to be as much of a real estate investment scheme as a learning institution.

In the last twenty years, the very expensive school seems to have bought twenty new buildings all over San Francisco and the empire shows no signs of abating.

Sitting in front of the auditorium was a huge limo with a "We HEART Art" license plate, and a gentleman standing in front of it who looked like a combination chauffeur/bodyguard.

In fact, there were security guards everywhere making sure there was a clear path from the auditorium to the limo(s). There are a lot of famous people who make their way through Civic Center, but this was one of the most heavyhanded displays of security I've seen since the Dalai Lama or Bill Clinton came into town.

I wonder what scam the Academy of Art University really entails.


janinsanfran said...

Damn -- you always hit the realities -- as much of a real estate investment scheme as a learning institution. This is such a weird institution.

Years ago I knew someone who went there. She took her loans, became a tatooed art object and never went back. Now administers IT. Happily.

Who knows?

Eric said...

Haha, so true -- I wish I understood the doings of the mysterious Academy of Art empire. It seems you can hardly walk more than a block or two downtown without bumping into another outpost.

Sal said...

(1) I know someone who graduated AAU and now is a lead modeler with the Asylum, working on CG for movies up in Marin. The education she got at AAU worked for her. (Plus she's talented, hard working, and an all-round nice person ...)

(2) Because they are a gen-you-wine educational institution, I believe that every property that AAU buys comes off the tax rolls, for those who are keeping track.

(3) Medallion#3519 on the front grill of the limo identifies the owner as someone with a place in the Del Monte Forest -- known as Pebble Beach to the common crowd -- who doesn't have to pay the $10 or whatever it is at the gate to get onto the roads for the 17 Mile Drive 'cause they own a home on a road on the other side of the gates.

Sal said...

on further checking, an article mentions that AAU's properties are assessed at $$$, which implies that they are also taxed -- perhaps because AAU is a "for profit" educational establishment?

I'll have to let the folks who complained that AAU didn't pay property taxes know that it probably does.