Mount Royal University cuts are the work of cowards

| April 16, 2013 | 2 Comments

Mount Royal University administrators gut theatre department

mount royal university

Canadian playwright Eugene Stickland is NOT impressed with cuts to the Mount Royal University theatre program.

We learn with some dismay that the fresh-faced, newly minted Mount Royal University, elevated a few years ago from its low and pedestrian college status, has decided to take the coward’s way out in addressing budget cuts, cutting and slashing and hacking its performative arts programs, namely music and theatre.

From what we are led to believe, this will involve cutting three positions from the theatre department.

Sadly, clearly, this will be the beginning of it, who knows where it will end?

The message sent here, first from the government which has left Mount Royal University no alternative but to cut and slash and hack somewhere, and then from the visionaries charged with the responsibility of steering the good ship Mount Royal through the murky waters of fiscal constipation, is that the arts don’t matter anyway, so fuck them, and fuck their children too.

I take this gutless and unimaginative course of action personally. These people you are firing are my friends and colleagues. They have hopes and dreams and obligations like the rest of us. What now for them?

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And even more personally, I resent this assault on the hopes and  dreams and aspirations of the next generation of artists, both in music and in theatre: Calgary kids with a dream of making it in the arts.

Shall we send them all into business? Accounting? Is that the vision of Mount Royal University – if they even have one – for the future of this community?

Over the twenty years that I have been in Calgary and participated in the creation of one of the most vibrant artistic communities in Canada, I have been aware of the importance of our post secondary institutions in feeding the scene with amazing and at times astonishing young artists coming from Mount Royal University, the University of Calgary, and my own small university college, St. Mary’s.

The training that they receive from very fine instructors at all these places, and others further flung like Red Deer College and the University of Lethbridge, has allowed them to join in and participate and infuse the scene with new energy, new ideas. Our young artists have kept things vibrant and energetic and in a way, honest.

And so now what, oh brain trust at Mount Royal University? Oh mighty sages, now what?

“Fuck you, kid, it never really mattered anyway.”

That’s what I’m hearing from this decision you made today.

I could say something like, in the end, a thousand years from now, no one will remember the losers who made this decision today, but they will remember the artists.  The trouble is, in the performative arts, you need training to have artists who will be remembered. Actors need it, musicians too, they need training and good people to train them.

And with that training, what amazing things they can do!

And without it, well, who knows? I guess we’ll never know.

The makers of this decision should feel a deep shame tonight. You should all look into the mirror and know that the biggest asshole in the world is looking back at you.

And that’s what I think about the cuts to theatre and music at Mount Royal University.

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Category: Opinion

Comments (2)

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  1. Victor Noir says:

    Eugene, while the suspension of the theatre arts and music diploma programs is very unfortunate (I happen to know Jim Brenan), please note that the Conservatory will continue to provide performing arts instruction to both children and adults.

    Cuts to all academic programming are unfortunate, and I agree that cuts to the arts are the last thing Albertans need right now, but you have to also recognize that as a University, MRU’s intent was to eventually phase out most if not all diploma and certificate programming.

    I suggest directing some of your angst towards Minister Lukaszuk, whose tragically uninformed notion of “duplication” will continue to force other PSEs to direct students elsewhere in the province for specific programs. That’s some great accessibility.

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