Editorial: Funding for the arts

In the 1990s, society was introduced to the acronym STEM, representing the four important fields of education: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This leaves one important topic out: The arts. It should come as no surprise then, that the arts typically get the short end of the stick when it comes to prestige and funding. This is even true at Washburn.

According to the Board of Regents agenda for September, Washburn has a budget of over $90 million. About $36.5 million of that goes to Instruction. Why can’t a little more be allocated to the arts?

Every few years Washburn puts on a musical. It’s a flashy affair—lots of group numbers and dances. Here’s what is concerning: according to makemusicals.com, it costs between $25,000 and $75,000 to put on a musical. Washburn has a fantastic tech team who put together wonderful, minimalist sets and costumes, which means there should not be any difficulty staying under $75,000. However, the Washburn Theatre department cannot afford to do it on their own. They partner with the Ad Astra Theatre, which is all well and good, except that it puts Washburn’s students in direct competition with Ad Astra’s veteran actors.

The Board of Regents has approved a 10-year plan for renovating the campus. What does it say about our university that we can afford multi-million dollar renovations to our buildings, but we can’t find $75,000 to put on a musical? Isn’t the point of college to gain exposure to real world applications of our majors? How are theatre majors expected to know what goes into making a musical when we can’t show one without relying on a local theatre?