In my town, there are a couple of photography schools available to those so inclined. I own one of them. PrairieView School of Photography is a private vocational institution with 16 full time students and about 650 part time evening/weekend registrants (mainly hobby type courses). Our full time program is geared towards those that intend to enter the photographic industry in some capacity or other. Traditional darkroom techniques are a core part of the program and will be as long as the buck stops with me.

Like Ilford, I have thrown down the "last man standing" guantlet with regards to black and white and traditional photo techniques. Of course our students are trained on the latest greatest (obsolete next week) digital gear for which we pay dearly each time we "upgrade' (our enlargers are due for an upgrade in the summer of 2086). They shoot a lot of digital and do a lot of photoshop work since, as a vocational institution, our goal is to train them to work in the industry...and as the industry goes, so does our curriculum. However, it is my belief that the traditional techniques, taught by experts (all of my teachers are working professional photographers/artists/computer geeks) represent the best foundation upon which to build a photography skill set. So our students are in the darkroom at least twice a week for classes and have access to it for most of the other days to complete assignements. All of our students shoot film for many of the assignements, all will have some training on medium and large format cameras. We even offer optional units on alt photo techniques.

It is great to observe that the (mostly) youngish people in the class truly love the darkroom and tradtional techniques. Computers to them are everyday objects....things they have grown up with. There is no real razzle dazzle involved in digital imaging for them. Oh, they like it alright...it is cool, fun etc, etc. but it is no mystery. Nor is it the evil beast. It just is. They take to it like a duck to water and produce good work (the teachers really like the instant feedback). The darkroom and vintage cameras however are cool with a capital C for many of them (and for most of our teachers too). It warms my heart to see a 20 something student walking around with an Olympus Trip 35mm rangefinder he picked up at for a few bucks, loaded with HP5 shooting whatever floats his boat.

There is a "fine art" program available at a local university. From what I understand, and from the work I have seen produced by graduates, the program is similar to other university fine art programs. The school tends to produce some fairly good artists with so-so technical skills. Like many (most) other university programs they have a large (40 inch?) colour processor, so naturally 90% of what students produce is super huge colour prints no matter what the subject. Dick Arentz once told me that in many universities the mantra for a good photo was "make it BIG and make it RED"! I am not sure how a tradtional black and white print would go over in the program.

Like much of the work I have seen of young fine art students in recent years, the subject matter usually involves:

1. Urban decay/sprawl and other assorted evils of mankind or

2. The student's own tortured life/sexual indentity and other assorted evils of mankind.

But it looks like traditional (colour) printing is alive and well at the university for now...they have a really big machine to pay off I guess. I am not sure of the status of their digital program at this point but I am would not be surprised to find out that they are working on ways of getting really big, red prints about the various evils of mankind out of an inkjet printer of somesort.

(tongue firmly in cheek folks....some of the teachers in the univeristy program are absolutely top-knotch...and they really have produced some excellent artists.)