It doesn’t seem that long ago (December 18th 2018 to be exact) that I wrote the mayor of Surrey a letter trying to convince him not to cancel the new arts centre. Sadly, the mayor did not answer me as apparently he doesn’t communicate with the voting public. But here again, I’m writing another letter (see below) to try to increase support for the arts. It seems that our government does not understand the purpose and the necessary role that the arts play in the world. You would think that after the overwhelming research of the benefits of music this wouldn’t be a crucial conversation in 2019.
So what is going on you ask? Not sure if you were watching my social media over the weekend or the different news reports did about the funding cuts at Kwantlen University. I’ve included the official report but basically in a nut shell – it means that there will be no 1st year music students at Kwantlen next year. This is unacceptable, our retired Vancouver Symphony conducer Bramwell Tovey put it best on twitter: “Come on Kwantlen, you are better than this. Change tack before the ridicule sets in.”
So here’s my letter to the both Diane Purvey, Dean of Arts and Alan Davis, KPU President. I will be also emailing my MLA Bruce Ralston to see how our provincial government can make sure Kwantlen receives the necessary funds they deserve and need. (will share that letter as well)
Here’s the emails if you would like to email them as well and be sure to cc Jane Hayes KPU Music Department Head.
Dean of Arts, Diane Purvey: firstname.lastname@example.org
KPU President: email@example.com
KPU Music Department Head: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr. Davis and Ms. Purvey
I am very sorry to hear that your university is suffering from funding issues. Your art programs provide wonderful programs to artists who would rather stay local for their training. I often work with music graduates from Kwantlen and I find that they are always well-trained, professional and bring a lot to our different projects. As an educator, I always recommend Kwantlen to students and a couple of them have studied music at Kwantlen. They have told me how much they enjoyed their time there and how wonderful the program was. I was especially impressed with Kwantlen University last year when the wonderful Fraser Valley Kwanis Festival was at risk of dissolving and the university stepped in to save it. This meant the world to my students, most of whom are all currently preparing for this festival.
But as an arts presenter, performer, and educator, I am horrified that your university will not be able to accept new music students in this fall. The music industry in British Columbia is at an all time high. Programs such as yours feed the industry and if the momentum is broken (even if it is for one semester) – the future of music and the arts cannot take a chance like this. Music is the backbone of our society. There is no need to go into the countless studies that have proven the vital role that music plays in our society. If you are unsure, a quick Google search will demonstrate this for you. Also did you know that in British Columbia, we have the highest amount of artists per capita, many of which use music as their main medium of expression?https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/arts-culture/facts-and-stats With our baby boomers aging, more and more highly trained artists will be needed and if our young artists leave the province to train – will they come back? My personal experience is that during the university years, relationships are formed and those relationships keep us in our city of study. A program such as yours is vital to keeping our musicians local.
How many world class entertainers have had their start in British Columbia? Kwantlen helps plays a role in that – let’s continue that!
I am also contacting my MLA Bruce Ralston to question why funding was cut back and to see if the provincial government can offer assistance in replenishing the much needed funds. If our government does not see fit to increase funding, I would recommend that each department take a slight hit instead of just penalizing young musicians from starting their much needed training with the wonderful professionals that you have teaching at your institution.
I say this often and I say will say this again. During WWII, Winston Churchill did not just focus his energy on bullets but rather he invested much in the arts. A popular meme that is used on social media shows Mr. Churchill being questioned as to why he was investing so much money in the arts, he supposed answer was “Why are we fighting?” If he did or did not say that, the sentiment still holds true. I would though challenge each and every one of us as educators to ask what are we fighting for? Let’s us continue to make the British Columbia’s music industry one that we can be proud of.
Educator. Performer. Presenter.