Talks on the proposed partnership between the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the Maine College of Art have entered a more formal stage.

Representatives of the Salt institute, the school’s alumni board, an alumni group called Save Salt, MECA and the Maine-based Quimby Family Foundation met Monday to discuss “models for future partnership,” according to a statement released by Raffi Der Simonian, director of marketing and communications for MECA. The statement said that a set of “due diligence actions” was agreed on and that a follow-up conversation will happen in two to three weeks.

Kimberly Curry, chair of the Salt institute’s board, confirmed the meeting and said Salt was involved in writing the statement. Neither she nor Der Simonian would elaborate on what “due diligence” actions might be taken. The term often refers to research or investigation done before entering a contract.

The Salt institute and the art school began talks this summer, after Salt leaders announced in June that the school would close this fall because of dwindling enrollment and a lack of consistent fundraising.

Don Tuski, president of the Maine College of Art, said in late September that representatives from the two schools met four or five times and that discussions were about how Salt’s curriculum would work within the college. He said an agreement between the two schools could be reached by “early winter.”

The Quimby Family Foundation has been a “longtime supporter” of Salt, said Hannah Quimby, the foundation’s executive director. She said when talks began that she was “thrilled” with the prospect of Salt continuing its work at MECA, and that the foundation would support the collaborative effort between the schools.


The Salt institute, founded in 1973, usually enrolled 25 students a semester. The Maine College of Art has about 450 students.

Save Salt was formed soon after the announced closing in June, with a stated goal of keeping Salt open. Elyssa East, a member of that group, wrote in an email Tuesday that Save Salt members are “encouraged” that MECA’s leadership seems willing to listen to alumni’s concerns about the proposed partnership.

“There are many critical details still to be worked out but we are eager to roll up our sleeves and work with MECA to protect Salt’s unique programming and to secure its archive while also satisfying MECA’s interests and needs,” East said in her email.

Save Salt members first met with all the parties involved in the proposed partnership in August.

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