The show must go on

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The theatre department, with no options left, needs student support

Before you grab your torches and pitch forks and march to the candidate forum on Sept. 21, I would like to clarify a few points regarding the upcoming theatre referendum and address some concerns.

The University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) will be holding a referendum that will be coinciding with the fall URSU by-election. In the winter 2012 semester, the petition to have a referendum was initiated by the Fine Arts Students Association (FASA) where they successfully collected the required amount of signatures. The question being asked is, “Do you support the fee of .25 cents per student per semester for free admission for students to attend all university theatre productions?” The key word in this question is “productions.” The question does not state “fine arts faculty” or “theatre department.” If the referendum passes, the theatre admission fee will not go towards FASA nor the theatre department. The theatre admission levy would be distributed between a number of productions for the semester. Usually, the theatre department produces four to five shows a year.

Many students are already asking why there needs to be a theatre admission fee when admission is already free for students. It is true that admission has been free for students for the past several years, but here is some background information that you may find interesting.

At first (around the 2002-03 school year) the theatre department discontinued charging U of R students. Unfortunately, times have changed as the theatre department and the fine arts faculty have been consistently been receiving funding cuts since the late 2000s. With the increasing costs of producing theatre productions (materials, equipment, tools, etc.) and the decrease of funding from the university, the theatre department has been desperate to find a way to make ends meet. The latest funding cut, or this case repayment, happened this last summer as every faculty (yes, even yours) had to give back approximately one-third of their faculty budget to the university

The theatre department was originally going to charge students admission prices of $10-$15 per student per production back in winter semester 2011. This is when URSU stepped in. URSU, acting upon a request from the theatre department head Kathleen Irwin, agreed to cover the remainder of the semester’s productions as well as renew the agreement for the following semester (Fall 2011). However, the agreement was not renewed by the newly-elected URSU executive.
With no help from the new URSU, the theatre department came to the conclusion they really wanted to avoid, which was to charge students that see the production $10-$15 each per production. After much discussion, FASA decided that one option would be to petition students to hold a referendum to ask students the referendum question.

Some of you may blame the university administration and possibly the fine arts faculty, but both entities have been trying to come up with a reasonable resolution. I met with university president Dr. Vianne Timmons to discuss the issue. I was informed that the university board of governors distributes funds to the faculties based on enrollment numbers for each faculty. Because of this, in the fine arts faculty, the smallest faculty at the U of R, each fine arts student is assigned a higher dollar amount than a student enrolled in a larger faculty. This is the board of governors’ attempt to make the distribution of funds balanced and not to show favoritism towards certain faculties, contrary to the rumors of a bias towards the business school or the engineering faculty. They are trying to do their part in helping, but unfortunately it is not enough. With the portion of faculty funds given to the theatre department, the department sets a percentage aside for the theatre productions for the year.

I would like to reiterate that, if the referendum passes, the student admission fee will be going towards the theatre productions the theatre department performs. It will not be paying the salaries of anyone in the theatre department, nor pay for implementing theatre classes that are used for the theatre production. Vote yes if you want this important student privilege to continue.

Jordan Palmer
Contributor

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