by Maureen Mugerwa
Theatre students at the University of Regina are not happy with the cuts to the theatre department.
“Because of the cuts we don’t have as many classes, which we need for our degree. They’ve opened all of our classes so that any one can be in them,” said Hayley Taylor, a fourth-year theatre student. The 400-level acting classes do not require prerequisites and fourth-year students who are paired with first-year students have to teach them the basics.
“So instead of moving forward they’re going backwards,” said Taylor.
The university budget calls for three per cent cuts across the board. According to a report submitted by the faculty of fine arts to a March 6 University Council meeting, this cut will be particularly hard on an already-struggling theatre department, despite assurances of support from university president Vianne Timmons.
“Historically the theatre department has been at the centre of the arts community—our outreach has been extensive and exemplary,” according to the fine arts report. A lot of the activity within the theatre department has been reduced because of the budget.
Laura, a second-year acting student who was uncomfortable giving her last name, has also been affected by these cuts. “I’m finding that I really have to catch up in learning what others in their fourth year have already been taught in order to get through the class,” she said. The 400-level acting class was the only available class which, for Laura, was “stressful not knowing as much as the fourth years and going into that with them.”
“The essence of what we do, the business of training artists, is profoundly challenged,” read the information package.
The fine arts report stated, “our capacity to hire student assistants is similarly curtailed” as they will now lose many hours in the “first three per cent cut." Without people around to help in the different positions such as costume construction, dressing, props making, set design, front of house duties and publicity, they are not able to do what is necessary to produce their shows, according to the report.
If the theatre department is to lose its activities because of the budget, it will not be able to attract students and funding from the community. The department has lost all their sessionals who have “supported entire areas of what we do,” the report stated. The department is coming to a point where their program is not attracting people and they want to be heard, it concluded.