University of Regina theatre students in rehearsal for the upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing. Photo by Jarrett Crowe.
by Jarrett Crowe
Would you support paying 25 cents per semester that would fund theatre productions at the University of Regina (U of R) and allow you to see the plays for free? Some students at the university believe the majority will.
A petition is being circulated around the U of R to add a 25¢ student fee to fund productions from the theatredepartment. If passed through a referendum by the student body, students would not have to pay directly to see a play but instead be covered through their student fees.
Fine Arts Students Association (FASA) president Jordan Palmer says that the majority of the Faculty of Fine Arts students support the potential fee and he hopes the same for the rest of the student body.
“Basically, we wanted students to vote on this as it’s getting expensive to run theatre productions now with administrative costs and material costs in order to create sets,” said Palmer.
As the department, along with the university as a whole, faces budget cutbacks, the cost of producing a theatre production rises. Budget cuts could mean fewer opportunities for students wishing to learn acting, lighting, costume or set design says Kathleen Irwin, head of the theatre department. She estimates that the department is working with around 40 per cent less in its budget than in previous years.
“We produce shows in order to teach students how to produce shows. So, as our budgets gets tighter, our shows get smaller and we are faced with the possibility of not having pedagogically what we require to teach our students,” said Irwin.
She said introducing the opportunity for students to see the play for free has allowed for increased student participation as it allows them to bring their friends to the plays; an increase in advertising helped as well.
In 2011, the U of R Students Union (URSU) had sponsored the theatre department to keep an open box-office for students with the argument that the theatre productions are beneficial to all students on campus. The sponsorship allowed students to continue seeing the plays for free, which the department introduced in 2006.
“The theatre department represents an on-campus theatre company. That’s a unique situation for universities to actually have a producing theatre company on campus. We felt it was really important for students to understand what resources they had here and for them to enjoy it across the campus,” said Irwin.
However, Palmer and Tyler Hoppings, president of the Theatre Students Association, agree that continued URSU sponsorship would have been ideal but had decided to not renew the sponsorship agreement to provide funding. Hoppings said that he is unsure of why URSU has decided not to renew the sponsorship but is certain that “its a good reason.”