The State & Future of Theatre and Performance at York

Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash

Whether people realize it or not, every aspect of life is ultimately one big performance — from the day that we’re born until the end, we’re all unknowingly performing every single day. 

The date is the Nov. 29 2022, and Eric Armstrong, the chair of the theatre and performance department, announces that there will be changes coming to the theatre program. Some were absolutely necessary and needed for the program to continue to be successful, but it’s a question about whether or not this happened because of budget changes York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance, and Design (AMPD) may be experiencing.

These budget cuts and lack of care have become increasingly apparent when you notice that some of the most outdated buildings on campus house the arts programs. 

For Hannah McInnis, a fourth-year theatre student, the budget cuts for the fine arts and the failure to update arts buildings are troubling. 

“It feels lately that York University sees more importance in building entirely new campuses than actually taking care of the Keele Campus,” states McInnis. “We have the money to aid in shows, performances, and showcases that the students put on, but that doesn’t erase the fact that many of the buildings are outdated”. 

It seems that fine arts programs within the post-secondary context are getting cuts much more often now, and it’s very unfortunate as the programs that are historically more academic don’t typically seem to receive as many cuts, and have much more support. 

I think part of the reason why the arts are always first up to receive cuts is that they aren’t respected enough. The arts are a necessity in so many aspects of life — without them, the world would be a much different place. 

Reflect on the last song you listened to, the last movie or TV show you watched, or the last painting or drawing you saw. Now, imagine if the arts didn’t exist — you wouldn’t have any of those things. 

The truth is, folks wouldn’t be able to survive without the arts. 

Throughout history, the arts have been one of the main things people have always been able to lean on, and there’s a reason why they are still an integral part of society today. We need to start emphasizing the importance of theatre and the fine arts within an educational setting. 

Some of the most well-rounded individuals have a background in the arts — these programs are creating and nourishing incredible individuals who are leading change within their communities, oftentimes long after they’ve received their degrees.

The argument that theatre school isn’t ‘real’ school has been made repeatedly. I think it’s important to always challenge that set of beliefs — it’s an extremely surface-level way of thinking. When we stop thinking of fine arts education as not being ‘real’ or ‘practical’, I believe we really start to appreciate the work that arts education does for students. 

It’s also so important to note how much of a difference the arts make for students’ daily lives. 

Various studies have shown that students who are involved in the arts, whether it be acting, singing, dancing, painting or playing an instrument, demonstrate stronger problem-solving and critical thinking abilities. It’s also been found that students involved in the fine arts tend to be able to engage and participate much more comfortably and openly while at school compared to students who aren’t involved in the arts.

It’s time to start caring and paying attention to the fine arts here at York. The work these students are doing, despite the lack of support at times, is absolutely invaluable.

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By Derek Roy


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Brunina Morrow

Great article Derek!
Thanks for sharing the opinions that many of us have about the arts and related programs!
Thunder Bay is proud of your accomplishments!

Last edited 1 year ago by Brunina Morrow