California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

The Theatre Department Needs A Higher Budget

Photo Contributed by Scout Passacqula
The cast and crew of the Capstone Class annual 10 minute play festival.

The Theatre Arts Department needs more funding to be able to continuously provide professional, and engaging experiences for their students now and for years to come, who share the same passion for performing.

For 13 years, theater has encompassed my life and shaped me into the person I am today. That is why I am a theater arts major at California Lutheran University.ย 

โ€œOur budget right now is the same as it was 30 years ago, so we make things happen but itโ€™s very tight,โ€ Professor of Drama Kenneth Gardner said.ย 

With a budget increase the Theatre Department wouldnโ€™t have to modify designs to meet budgets, actors would not have to bring their own costumes, or ask other universities to borrow items. With a higher budget, the theater productions could look more professional, Associate Professor and Department Chair Noelle Porter said.

Right now the Theatre Arts Department has to put on lower-quality productions that do not coincide with the talent of performers, and do not compare to the possibilities they could have with a larger budget. If they could match the quality of the productions to the talent they have, that would reflect better on the department as a whole, for current and future students.ย 

โ€œWe could consistently do larger scale musicals, it would help increase the quality of plays we do,โ€ Gardner said. โ€œEverything’s more expensive, especially with inflation, so I think it would just support basic production needs.โ€

While the department has a small intimate setting that can be appealing to some, there are some other factors from the reduced budget that can deter people from enrolling in our department or Cal Lutheran in general.ย 

โ€œWe appeal to a particular kind of student, I donโ€™t know if that may deter them because of our facilities, and Iโ€™m really grateful for this building, but a lot of high school students come in and they donโ€™t say this, but itโ€™s on their face, their high school theater, like Thousand Oaks Highย Schoolโ€™s theater is a nicer theater than this,โ€ Gardner said.ย 

If the department doesnโ€™t get an increase in budget, that could lead to long-term effects.ย 

โ€œI think we might lose more and more students actually, and maybe even faculty and staff because weโ€™re working so hard with what we have and to make it appealing and to make it great it is getting very challenging,โ€ Porter said. โ€œI think the best thing the theater department has going for it is the faculty and staff because we certainly donโ€™t have the building or the facilities, or the technology, or the supplies, I would say it probably becomes daunting and tiresome for the people in it to have to always always be pinching pennies so greatly.โ€ย 

The Theatre and Dance Department website states, โ€œStudents participate in a yearly average of four major productions, including classics, contemporary pieces, musicals, original films, improvisational theater, and the student Black Box series.โ€ย 

However, what is advertised to students on the website, is not what it seems to be when you actually get involved in Cal Lutheranโ€™s Theatre Arts Department. This is because they donโ€™t have the funds to provide everything that they want to provide for their students.ย 

While the goal of the department is to provide students with these amazing opportunities, it has proven difficult to provide these experiences with budget reductions. As stated on the website, the department used to perform at the Civic Arts Plaza which was an amazing opportunity for students. However, after the budget reduction, performances are typically held in the black box which still provides a fun experience, but not the level of professionalism and opportunity as the Civic Arts Plaza provided for the students.ย 

โ€œI think that in order to do plays, you know it gets expensive to do a full season. For example, our budget was up over $100,000 dollars, of course, thatโ€™s when we were doing musicals down at the Civic Arts Plaza and a musical down there is $90,000 dollars plus, and if we do a musical here itโ€™s about $50,000 dollars,โ€ Gardner said.ย 

Since then the budget has been reduced by about 60%, Gardener said, this semester they’re doing a musical for way less than that, meaning that the quality of production isnโ€™t as professional as it could be.ย 

All being said, I believe the faculty are incredible and only want the best for their students, and do everything they can within their means to help provide the best opportunities for their students.

I am very grateful to be part of the Theatre Arts Department here on campus, as the people I have met are incredibly talented and the faculty are supportive and involved. My hope is that the Theatre Arts Department can have an increase in budget to be able to provide more professional opportunities for their students, and put some of the joy back into doing a production without so many financial limitations.ย 

The Theatre Arts Department needs more funding to be able to keep the amazing staff they have and encourage more talented students to enroll while still providing a professional and engaging environment to current students involved with the department.ย 

โ€œThe test of true creativity is usually to do something on a tight budget, so weโ€™re used to doing that, but to be tightened more and more takes some of the joy out of it,โ€ Porter said.

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