The Brooks Institute, an iconic photography and visual arts school, is abruptly shutting down.
A letter was handed out to faculty and students a week ago announcing the closure and Friday was the last day of class. Hundreds of students, faculty and alumni showed up to the campus to bid their final farewell.
After teaching students about photography and film for 70 years, Brooks Institute is permanently closing its doors.
“I cried like everybody else. I am moving my stuff out as we speak,” said Randy Goldberg ,who works at Zoom Café on the Brooks campus.
The visual arts and photography school was started by Earnest Brooks in Montecito, California. Over the years, the campus thrived and grew, but in 2013 a decision was made by new owners to consolidate the entire Brooks campus to its newer and bigger Ventura location.
The school switched hands again just last year GPhomestay had big plans for the school and had signed contracts to move it to downtown Ventura. Construction projects were underway when the shocking news that the school was closing was announced.
“It is instant death of our campus after 70 years. Instant shock. We thought we were moving to downtown Ventura and then we get an announcement by some attorneys that our school is closing. It is terrifying. It is terrible,” said Goldberg.
“We found out that the school was closing down. It hit us all and it is hard to be here. Every time we drive here it is harder and harder,” said Brooks student Jordan King.
With only a week’s notice, students and faculty are now trying to figure out what’s next. With tuition costing more than $80,000 for the three-year program, most students have invested tens of thousands of dollars, and don’t even know if the classes they took will transfer to another school
“It’s insulting to be honest. I took out student loans to be here so I don’t know what is going to happen with that,” said Brooks student Christina Racine.
“What’s next? It is either jumping into the real world and starting up a business and going that route or finding another school to go to and hopefully being able to match the education that I would have gotten here,” said King.
NewsChannel 3 reached out to Brooks for answers on why the campus was closing. School representatives would not appear on camera, but they did release the following statement:
"Unfortunately, changes in economic and regulatory conditions in recent years have had a significant, prolonged, negative impact on Brooks. We attempted to mitigate this impact through contraction, strategic planning, and innovation, but with only limited success. Because we did not expect the adverse conditions to change in the foreseeable future, our only remaining, responsible course of action was to proceed to closure."
While today was the last day of classes, the school says it will continue to offer administrative and student service support through its official closure on Oct. 31.