Retired professor warns students to be aware of decline in university culture
StFX will not longer be supporting the Antigonish Performance Arts concert series, as the StFX administration has decided that the required $15,000 to keep the series alive is no longer sustainable.
The Perfoming Arts have been funded by the university since 1973, but the upcoming school year of 2017-2018 will be concert-free. StFX will no longer give students the option to see live music on campus that is supported solely by the university. In the past StFX has had Grammy and Juno Award-winning acts such as Oliver Jones, Anton Kuerti, Ben Heppner, The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, The Gryphon Trio, and many more.
The Xaverian Weekly recently interviewed Dr. Michael Steinitz, a former physics professor at StFX for over thirty-five years, who has been managing the concert series since 1980. He explained that the series was originally co-funded by the Students’ Union and the university. At this point in time the concerts were free and the attendance was low. Dr. Steinitz took control of the series, separated it from the Students’ Union, began to charge small admittance fees, and the attendance of the concerts increased twofold.
Since then he has been single-handedly finding and booking some of Canada’s most promising young talent. He praised StFX for their past efforts, he said that “StFX has generously supported the series, seeing low ticket prices as part of its social mandate in the community, to make the arts accessible to all.”
The Antigonish Performance Arts concert series cost $15,000 a year. According to StFX’s financial statement during the school year of 2015-2016, last year StFX budgeted close to $2,000,000 for athletics and $700,000 for athletic awards. Next year’s budget will run an $800,000 deficit. The university also has $25-30 million in unfunded debt, debt that is not covered by revenue earned through residence fees, energy savings, and so on.
The Xaverian Weekly also interviewed another retired StFX professor, who wished to remain anonymous, who was concerned with what the budget cut meant for the arts in general. He explained, “The cutting of the concert series shows the clear narrative of the arts losing importance at StFX.” He encouraged students to “be aware of the university cutting the fat off of their budgets by eliminating culture.”
“It is a slow but sure process. Without culture, a university ceases to be universal. We have to realize that arts teachers are retiring and not being replaced,” he added.
The future of the concert series is unknown but fortunately there is still some hope remaining. Many supporters of the concert series have been sending in personal donations. Although the traditional concert series consisted of ten shows per year costing at around $15,000, nearly $10,000 in donations have already been received. Overall, the general attitude within the community is that it does not want the Antigonish Performance Arts concert series to die.