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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


College of Fine Arts merger saves $300k

The Schools of Theatre Arts and Media Arts will combine into one School of Theatre, Film and Television this fall because of a 7 percent across-the-board budget cut, to the College of Fine Arts recently.

The merger will save the College of Fine Arts $300,000. The savings will come mostly from dissolving currently unfilled faculty positions. Upcoming retirements and a reduction in spending will also help, according to the current School of Theatre Arts director Bruce Brockman.

“”The focus has been on the budget savings that have come about but there really is another whole facet to this,”” Brockman said. “”The School of Theatre Arts and the School of Media Arts have a great deal in common, mostly because the two disciplines — or the skills imparted in them — end up playing important roles in the industry.””

Faculties and directors of both schools have come together to discuss the move and discovered some common ground, along with new program possibilities for the new school.

“”The faculty are actually quite excited about what this might mean in enhancing course opportunities,”” Brockman said.

Both schools are working to train students for professions in the entertainment industry.

“”I can kind of see their reasoning in saying (the schools are) similar because they both involve acting,”” said theatre arts freshman Jessica Stennett. “”From an actor’s point of view, it would be cool to take a course in film acting.””

Faculty and students from both schools have worked together and supported each other on various projects in the past, but Brockman, who is heading the new school, says coming together will allow for more collaboration.

The merger will give acting students more chances to perform in front of the camera and film students access to a myriad of performers to use in their films.

“”We have actors, they have directors that need actors to perform in their films. Our actors need to be able to have demo reels with them on film as part of what they use to get work,”” Brockman said.

The merger will not compromise the academic excellence or professional standards upheld by each school, Brockman said, but will focus on the opportunities to create new majors and classes. He stressed that the intention is to let these changes happen naturally rather than forcing them.

“”Part of me feels like maybe they’re just coming up with reasoning, so we’ll all feel better, but in reality will my class ever see this? Or will it be future classes of students who will see the results of this because these things seem to take awhile,”” Stennett said.

Some programs may grow, evolve or merge more readily than others. The bachelor’s program in production, for example, may directly intersect with design and production, stage management and theatre management courses in the bachelor’s program in theatre studies.

Vicky Westover, the program director for the Hanson Film Institute in the College of Fine Arts, says it’s too early to tell exactly what programs may be created or altered.

“”I see potential for new programs in the field of production design … (which) is a really important aspect of filmmaking,”” Westover said. “”There is no film school that I know of at the undergraduate level in the U.S. that offers production design.””

Initially, faculty and staff reductions may lead to larger workloads for teachers. It may also cause minor reductions in services to faculty and staff. But as the migration smoothes out and the curriculum is adjusted, the school will function with greater efficiency overall, officials say.

“”We’re simply asking staff to do more work, and so some of the things that they have had help with — mundane kinds of things, copying, mailing, helping prepare materials for class — simply won’t be as available,”” Brockman said.

Overlap already exists in the schools’ bylaws and organizational structures, but a new set of bylaws will be written for the upcoming fall semester to determine exactly how the new school will function. Brockman hopes the school will create something really unique.

“”It’s a wonderfully creative solution to a problem. We took what was potentially just a negative, and we actually were able to turn it in something very positive,”” Westover said. “”It probably wouldn’t have come about if it hadn’t been for the pressure of the budget cuts.””

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