Budget Crisis Closes Curtains on the Theater

Valley’s own Theater Arts Department faces the slashing of classes, positions and funding.

By Edward Ruano, Copy Editor

Valley College’s economic crisis has raised many concerns for students across the campus, but the Theatre Arts Department in particular is facing a bloody slicing from the budget-cut axe.

Valley’s $5.5 million deficit, which cut the track and field team, 31 classes, and an unknown number of part-time instructors for the spring 2014 semester, has both expanded and damaged the theater department.

Theater 301, which surveys all stages of technical theater, and theater 325, which introduces students to specialized topics of stagecraft, have both been cancelled for the spring semester, according to the spring 2014 schedule of classes. Along with cutting these two classes that are equally fundamental to theater arts students, the department is also facing a lack of funding for equipment. The big problem; however, is that the department is missing two crucial positions — a full-time costumer and a performing arts technician.

“One of the biggest impacts for us, with the current economic situation, is that we lost our full-time costumer,” said Cathy Pyles, a theater arts instructor and department chair of Valley’s theater arts department, “and they only permitted us to hire a part-time replacement. It’s impossible to do the costumes for three to four shows a year with only

a part-time position. We should have two performing arts technicians and we have only one. They never replaced the person who retired.”

What hit the department the hardest is a directive from the district, which mandated that beginning spring 2014, the average class size should be more than 38 students. What the “average class size” means is unclear to some students and instructors, but what the department knows is that having 38 plus students in each class is a problem too big to tackle.

“We have a lot of specialty courses that can’t be that big. We don’t have enough equipment or ladders or whiteboards to teach 38 students,” Pyles said. “We don’t have enough hammers and drills and saws in the scene shop, nor do we have the safety advisors or supervision to control that many students.”

With the theater arts students’ upcoming MUSUEM performance on Nov. 20 in the Theater Arts Building, students hope to show the administration that they are serious and passionate about their art in hopes of receiving more funding. Some students feel as though the administration has not made an effort to get involved with the department at all.

“I’ve never seen [the administration] walk in to see how we are,” said Veronica Vasquez, a theater major. “They don’t associate with us. They come, request a special seat to watch the show and leave. All we see is a crowd of people in suits in the box office, then in their seats, and then they disappear.”

Along with contacting administration directly, students of the theater arts department are working hard to put on the best shows possible in hopes of receiving better exposure and support from the administration.

“The shows here are quite spectacular,” Vasquez said. “They are really good quality because of the professors we have and the talent we have. “Why would you want to take that away?”

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