Fine Arts Department looks to increase funding for next fiscal year
Beginning the fall 2016 semester, every freshman credit hour student at Tarleton State University will start contributing an extra fee of one dollar per credit hour to help support the Fine Arts Department. Dr. Teresa Davidian, Associate Professor and Department Head, said this would serve as a means to foster the continuing growth of the department.
“We used to have course fees that were applied to core courses… which brought us in money we needed, particularly for digital media which requires a lot of equipment,” Davidian said. “However, a College Enhancement Fee eventually replaced the course fees, and now we don’t have as much money as before. This increase is to help us maintain quality degree programs that attract quality students.”
Tarleton’s Fine Arts Department currently has nearly 300 students majoring in the department’s offered fields of study, in addition to the new maintenance of a multi-platform advertising system.
“We have 150 music majors, 90 digital media majors and 40 theater majors,” Davidian said. “The music program at Tarleton is nationally accredited. We advertise events on the marquee downtown on the square, put up posters, as well as send out press releases along with email announcements.”
Consequently, as a result of the combined costs of music and advertising related printing, along with instrument tuning (including 43 pianos) and software/animation requirements, the fine arts program costs more than many other academic programs. The idea, for Davidian, is not to increase funding from pre-College Enhancement Fee levels but to simply maintain it in order to adequately cover such costs.
“We wish to restore the funding level we were used to before the utilization of the College Enhancement Fee, which by the way might have been replaced yet again, because we want to remain competitive,” Davidian said. “The course fees were used to accommodate many of these costs as well as studios, master classes, instrumental repair and tuning.”
Yet the additional one-dollar per credit hour fee has not taken effect, Davidian hopes to have her proposal approved as soon as possible so the Fine Arts Department can help Tarleton students to its fullest capability.
“It is reflected in our history when I say we are student and community oriented,” Dr. Davidian said. “We want to have events that are free or very inexpensive, and compared to a lot of other schools this way, we’re different.”
Stemming from this commitment to public service, Davidian and the Fine Arts Department have strived to offer Tarleton students ample opportunities to pursue their respective passions for the arts. With programs ranging from the theatrically and musically focused to those with a concentration on digital media and classroom-based learning, the purpose of the department’s funding in Davidian’s eyes is to help interested students succeed in their ambitions.
“Within the theater, we have one or two children’s plays where busloads of kids come in from surrounding schools, four mainstage productions a year, plus a weekly improv as well as a summer studio,” Davidian said. “We also just started offering our brand new Lil’ Theater for elementary to high school age kids, which meet every Saturday to help teach them what goes on behind the scenes of a theatrical production as well as give them the opportunity to put on a play.”
“We also offer the Gaming Club within our digital media program,” she continued. “Our art program offers gallery shows along with guest lectures from art curators, while our music program offers concerts, clinics, guest recitals and even community ensembles which we encourage the public to join.”
While increases in student fees aren’t always met with positive response from students themselves, for junior digital media major Colin Craig, the Fine Arts Department proposed one dollar increase has a place at Tarleton.
“I really don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Craig said. “Since I’m in digital media, I’d like to maybe see some new equipment in the Mac Lab.”
While Davidian’s “program fee” has not yet been approved, it is possible that in the end, one dollar contributions will be what assures the show to go on.