Fine Arts Facing Budget Cuts

Faculty Weighing Options with Reduced Grant Money

Already short $13.2 million in government grants for a school year nearly over, Concordia must now look at what can be cut for the 2013-2014 academic year. For the faculty of fine arts, this will include less equipment and fewer classes.

Amid the Parti Québécois’ ambiguity on the permanence of this year’s cuts, Concordia fine arts is preparing to remove $500,000 to $800,000 from their $29.3 million total budget for the school year beginning May 1.

The largest cuts will come from the fine arts capital equipment budget, which covers non-disposable gear such as cameras and printers. Also up for review are class postings, which will mean that some courses will not be available every semester. Cuts to other faculties for the upcoming academic year are also expected.

Representatives from the dean of fine arts office have begun meeting with department heads to come up with the reduced funding plan.

Although the provincial government’s Summit on Higher Education is less than two weeks away, Concordia has no indication whether this financial ambiguity will be resolved at the meeting—the university is still uncertain if they’ll be allowed to attend.

“We still haven’t been invited, we still don’t know what’s happening with our long-promised summit,” said interim-Provost Lisa Ostiguy at a fine arts faculty council meeting on Friday.

Concordia has not received an agenda for the summit either, leaving the school with “all kinds of misinformation on what’s going to be covered [at the summit],” said Ostiguy, who noted that McGill and the Université de Montréal are also being kept in the dark.

No cuts were made to fine arts to recoup the $13.2 million lost for this year’s budget, about half to be taken into deficit—the third-largest in the school’s 30-year history. Concordia has also yet to receive the $3.4 to $4 million promised to offset this year’s cancelled tuition increases.

With government funding largely determined on enrollment, the university is left in a tight spot. At the faculty council meeting Fine Arts Dean Catherine Wild said enrollment for the program was “at—or near—capacity,” meaning no new money could come from an influx of new students.

Putting additional stress on the situation is that the number of undergraduate fine arts applications from outside the province this year is only at about two thirds of what it was at this time last year.

Among the courses on the prospective chopping block are the summer sessions of TDEV 498B and TDEV 498C, Designing and Conducting an Acting Workshop, because of the high cost compared to other elective courses.

Several theatre students were present at the faculty council meeting, after the Concordia Association for Students in Theatre encouraged students to become informed about the cuts to the theatre department.

“There are students counting on these courses to finish their degrees,” said CAST Treasurer Ned Zimmerman, who says many theatre students use the TDEV electives to transition from school to professional work.

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