Financial Woes at NSCAD

I was going to lump this into an update, but upon writing it I felt it deserved its own post.

I am concerned about the future of NSCAD. With the possibility of a faculty strike in the next few weeks (as early as next week for the technicians), and financial concerns at an all-time high, morale in class is a bit low between students and teachers alike. Though NSCAD is indeed in debt, so are all of the other universities in Nova Scotia, yet we are singled out and pressured to align to a shoestring budget that decreases which each coming year. We have been doing our best so far, both through pretty harsh cuts and fundraising through alumni, but the government is saying that this isn’t enough. There are many rumors around about how this will pan out, some of them saying that we may be forced to merge with Dalhousie/St.Mary’s, some saying we’ll have to make severe cuts to our programs, some saying that tuition will go up even higher. I’m unclear as to how merging us with other schools in debt would lessen our debt. What good would merging do other than to chip away at NSCAD’s reputation?

The framework for sustainability report pushed by the administration of the school talks about removing the portfolio requirement for the school, about cutting out the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary degree and even about moving from the gorgeous Granville Campus, where I will be spending (hopefully!) the majority of the next three years of my degree. It may not be the most efficient building in the world, but it is perfect for an art school. There is an air of romance and creativity in that campus that would be hard to replicate elsewhere.

There are several reasons I chose to come to NSCAD over the other art schools in Canada. Proximity to home was one; wanting to stay in the Maritimes is important to me. The vibrant art culture here is really something to be seen and experienced. I hate to see so many young people leave the Maritimes to go out west, and there are plenty of temptations to do so. There are a handful of other schools I could go to that cost less, and the job market out there is quite a bit different, with opportunities to make big money that just don’t exist here. The solution, though, is not to leave, but to grow here and help the Maritimes flourish, to attract more people our way instead of sending them away from us!

If Nova Scotia loses NSCAD, if the school loses its autonomy, we’re losing a hugely important asset to the Maritime provinces. Art students that have come literally from all over the world to attend NSCAD will look past Nova Scotia to OCAD, ACAD, and Emily Carr out west. This will have a huge negative impact on the art and music scene here. I do not want to see the Maritimes wither away to nothing, to continue to lose the young community, I want to see it grow!

Emily Carr is getting $113 million for a new campus from the government. Meanwhile, our government pressures us for more cuts demanding that times are tough, but goes forward with the questionable plan to build a $500+ million convention centre. To say that times are tough and then go forward with this kind of project thoroughly confuses and frustrates me. I watched a similar situation unfold back at home and I’m not convinced going forward with the project was the right thing to do for our city.

I am in love with this school. It was and still is my dream to attend art school here. I saved up for years and worked hard on a portfolio to get accepted. It breaks my heart to see the values of this school and what attracted me to come here be worn away and cut down. I fear that if things get really bad, I may have to consider leaving the Maritimes to get a thorough art education, though it makes me heart sick to think that way. NSCAD, one of the oldest and most prestigious art schools in Canada, needs support! I understand that times are tough all around, but there must be some compromises that we as a province can come to that ensure NSCAD’s autonomous future without breaking the bank.

Thinking caps, people! Let’s work together on this!