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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Public outreach programs get cut

    In order to balance the books by the end of 2009, Administrators announced that budget cuts will come to many of the University of Arizona’s outreach and community-based activities, leaving program leaders to look to the community for help.

    President Robert Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay announced via e-mail Monday that funding will be significantly reduced for UApresents, the Flandrau Science Center, the UA Mineral Museum and the Arizona State Museum.

    These cuts will result in a decrease of public access to campus programs and outreach operations.

    The UA Mineral Museum will be closed to school groups and the public later this spring, and the Arizona State Museum will be open to the public fewer days per week, along with cuts to educational outreach programs they offer.

    The UA Museum of Art will also be open fewer days per week and will eliminate it’s educational outreach, as well as the suspension of UA’s outreach and extension operations across the state.

    Director of the Arizona State Museum Beth Grindell said the museum brings approximately 45,000 to 50,000 visitors to the galleries and public programs they host.

    Because of the budget cuts, they will be forced to minimize their hours of availability.

    Grindell said the museum has still not received word on how many days they will be forced to close their doors, but they are hoping to not close for more than two days a week.

    “”We have been working for two or three years now to build up our earned income so that we can rely less on state income,”” Grindell said. “”We would like to keep the galleries open as much as possible so that we can use the admission charges to offset some of the state money that we are losing.””

    Currently, the Arizona State Museum does not charge admission, but she said the museum requests a donation from visitors.

    “”We are looking to start charging admission, approximately a five dollar entry fee,”” Grindell said.

    Even with charging entry fees, museum officials are still unsure if that will save them from cutting hours and programs.

    “”Sadly we are already starting to look at having to cancel things like the K-12 educational programming and a lot of the special events programming like Summer Solstice and Culture Craft Saturdays,”” Grindell said.

    UApresents will also be losing a large amount of university funding within the next couple of weeks.

    Mario DiVetta, public relations and marketing for UApresents, said the organization will see its state funding cut by three-fourths bringing the base amount of $600,000 to $150,000.

    “”We have other sources of funding, so the 2008-2009 season will not see a change,”” DiVetta said. “”However the 2009-2010 season will see a reduction in programming.””

    UApresents averages 35-40 shows a year, but because of cuts, DiVetta said the number will definitely be reduced.

    The hit to educational outreach programs will have a devastating impact on the entire campus and Tucson community, Grindell said.

    “”The Arizona State Museum and the anthropology department at the UA effect each other,”” Grindell said. “”We get a lot of student support from students who are taking anthropology classes who come to do projects here at the museum and we use a lot of student employees and we will have to cut back on that.””

    Another cut will come to the museum’s docent, or gallery guide, program in which museum officials train UA students and in turn, the students guide fourth graders through the museum while the school children become immersed in Arizona history.

    “”That has been a popular class over the years,”” Grindell said. “”A lot of students who are interested in early childhood education or public anthropology have enjoyed taking that class and then serving as teachers to young students.””

    Grindell said the docent program will most likely be eliminated, at least for a year or two.

    “”That will definitely have an effect on the anthropology program, the education department, and other departments on campus,”” Grindell said.

    Both UApresents and Arizona State Museum officials have said they will be looking elsewhere to fund educational outreach programs and community based activities.

    UApresents said they are committed to maintaining the quality and diversity of programming the community has come to expect, and they are responsive to the university’s needs.

    In the light of the cuts, DiVetta said UApresents is hoping to see an increase in community support.

    The Arizona State Museum will also look to the community for assistance in order to continue educational outreach to the Tucson area, Grindell said.

    “”We are looking for donors who are interested in, for example, childhood education, who might be interested to underwrite that kind of a program,”” she said.

    “”These cuts are devastating to the whole campus and we are sad that we have to do our share, but we are prepared to do it.””

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