ROCKPORT (AP) – The founder and owner of Maine Photographic Workshops, a well-known school for photographers and videographers, has put the institution up for sale.

David Lyman, who has operated the for-profit school for 33 years, announced the sale this week on its Web site and set a deadline of Nov. 1. He said he plans to pursue other creative ventures such as photography, producing, writing and lecturing.

The school, which will remain in operation while a buyer is sought, offers about 300 annual summer workshops and classes in subjects ranging from photography to digital video.

Some of the purchase options offered by Lyman include the buildings and property overlooking Rockport Harbor, while others would require the buyer to relocate the school. Another option includes the separate sale of the International Film Workshops.

The asking price for the school, equipment and real estate is $4.7 million. Included in the sale is Rockport College, which offers a Master of Fine Arts degree but has suspended classes for the fall semester because of a drop in enrollment.

The Web site said the school attracts 2,500 professionals, serious amateurs and students from around the world each year and has annual gross revenues of nearly $5 million.

Lyman, 66, told the Bangor Daily News that the idea of a sale did not come on suddenly.

“I’ve been playing with this for a couple of years,” he said. “We talked to Lesley University in 2003, and again last year and this year.” As of last month, Lesley, based in Cambridge, Mass., was not interested, Lyman said.

Lyman said he came close to an agreement with a prospective buyer from Europe, but the deal did not pan out.

A group of faculty and staff at the school is also working to create a nonprofit organization through which it would try to raise the money to buy the school, Lyman said.

The announcement on the Web site noted that Lyman is considering “selling the schools to a larger educational institution, a nonprofit organization, or a benefactor who can acquire the schools, retire the bank debt, and provide the two schools with financial stability.”

The Workshops ran into financial difficulties a few years ago and Lyman laid off a dozen staff members and tried to sell the school. About half the instructors continued to work without pay until the school was able to get its finances in order.

Lyman said the current sale offering comes while the Workshops are thriving.

“This was the busiest summer we’ve ever had,” he said. Enrollment averaged over 200 per week during the summer, he said, and the overall number of students in weekly workshops was 330 more than last year.

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Information from: Bangor Daily News,

AP-ES-08-25-06 0216EDT

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