After five years, the Austin Center for Photography is closing up shop. Citing economic conditions and financial woes, the organization will cease to exist after finishing its final slate of events later this year.
The numbers are startling: After a banner initial year, membership revenue decreased 87% going into this year, while attendance was down 35%.
That great start does make today's news quite shocking. The Center's greatest achievement is its "Icons of Photography" series, bringing some of today's best photographers to Austin. The first of these, Mary Ellen Mark, drew a sold-out crowd, with many left outside the Blanton's auditorium unable to gain entry.
Since then, the number of Icons that ACP hosted has reached 19, with one more, Martin Parr, set to appear in June as the final event on the ACP calendar. Other events left in the Center's 2013-14 season include author readings on the books Color: American Photography Transformed and Surf Texas, as well as the "Blog/Reblog" exhibition at Big Medium.
In recent months, the Center had tried partnering with such organizations as the Contemporary Austin and the Harry Ransom Center, but with membership continuing to decline, this wasn't enough to save it.
ACP will shut down its website at the end of March, but it will continue to disseminate information via Facebook and email. Those with outstanding memberships will have them transferred to the Ransom Center for the duration of their term.
While it's sad to see it go, the Austin Center for Photography did a lot of good work over the last half decade, and Austin audiences have been exposed to great art and great artists. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see who in Austin's photo community will step in to fill the void.