Camosun music students concerned about proposed budgets cuts, future of program
April 15, 2014 by Greg Pratt, editor-in-chief
A recent proposal to eliminate $200,000 from Camosun College’s music program budget at the Victoria Conservatory of Music has students concerned about the future of the program.
Hannah Kaehn is a Camosun foundations jazz student and is one of the students involved in putting together the Facebook page Save the Arts (facebook.com/savethearts), which aims to raise awareness and gather support about the potential cuts.
“I want to go into the diploma years,” says Kaehn about her jazz studies, “but I might not be able to if this happens.”
The jazz program at Camosun is the only one on the island, one of many reasons why music students are upset about the possibility of the program either undergoing changes or being cut entirely.
“Another friend in classical, she wants to do music therapy,” says Kaehn. “This is the only place on the island where you can get help for how to do that.”
Camosun College vice president of communications Joan Yates says that the college is in the middle of budget development and is in the consultation phase with a number of proposals.
“There were a few options that were put on the table,” says Yates. “They’re not about cuts at all, they’re about making programs more viable. The partnership with the conservatory was one of the things that was put on the table. No final decision has been made. At this stage we’re working quite hard with staff and faculty at the conservatory to see what can be done to mitigate that initial proposal.”
That initial proposal was to cut $200,000 from the conservatory’s budget, says Yates, but she says she doesn’t know what that would impact. Camosun is dealing with budget cuts from the Ministry of Advanced Education and in an attempt to cut $1.3 million from their budget are also considering cuts in the areas of computer technology and early childhood development.
“We don’t know, and I say that honestly because we’re still working it through. I’m not being vague. It may well be mitigated. It may be fewer faculty, it may be fewer courses offered, it may be a different process to register than what we do right now. It may be that the program is no longer viable. That’d be the worst-case scenario, and we’re hoping very hard that we’re not going to see that scenario. So it’s a whole spectrum of things that we’re looking at.”
Yates adds that the college is working very hard not to eliminate programs.
“We know how very, very hard it is to regroup and get them back once they’re gone,” she says. “You’ll recall a few years ago with ACP [Camosun’s now-defunct Applied Communications Program], we’re now looking at a different model of decision-making in respect to programming.”
For now, students can expect to hear more on this situation once the Camosun board’s finance committee makes a recommendation to Camosun’s board of governors. That meeting will happen in May, says Yates.
Camosun students will be holding a musical demonstration on the Lansdowne campus from 8 am to 4 pm on Thursday, April 17 to raise awareness. See facebook.com/savethearts for more information.