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USG discusses slashed budgets threatening music organizations

Members of various musical organizations expressed concerns about their ability to exist after having their budget slashed by nearly 97 percent for the 2009-2010 academic year by the Student Budget Committee. At last night’s Undergraduate Student Government meeting, Eric Watts, president of the men’s chorus group the HeeBeeBGs, asked USG members for advice and support on how to handle receiving drastically less funding next year. The Men’s Chorus went from getting $4,000 for the 2008-2009 academic year to $110 next year, which will affect the organization’s ability to go on tours. Chris Kulhanek, president of the A Capella Choir, has worries for his organization as well. ‘Usually we get money in the thousands and the numbers for this year were significantly less,’ he said. The central reason why musical organizations received less funding for next year is due to budget constraints, said USG Treasurer P.J. Wolf. ‘Unfortunately, the main motivation behind this is because of a budget crunch,’ said Wolf, who is also co-chair of the SBC. ‘There is an appeals process, however.’ Watts said his organization plans to appeal, but there is a roadblock to overcome. Since one of the reasons stated in the letter from SBC was that the musical organizations are tied to academic classes, the organizations have to prove they are separate entities. Wolf said if it can be proven there is no tie to any academic department it may make the musical organizations’ case easier when they appeal. He also said many other organizations such as Dance Marathon experienced significantly reduced funding. Wolf was unable to recall the Dance Marathon’s budget reductions. ‘There needs to be a clear difference between class credit and organizations when asking for SBC funding,’ Watts said. Without SBC funding members of organizations like A Capella, Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus and the HeeBeeBGs will be unable to operate the way they do now. ‘We aren’t able to function when we lose our SBC funding, and we have no excess funds to draw upon,’ Watts said. In the past, musical organizations raised funds, but efforts haven’t been successful the past couple of years, Watts said. ‘When Men’s Chorus had their hot-tub-a-thon this past year they raised only $500, when in years past they were able to raise as much as $9,000,’ Watts said. Musical ensembles are vital for the University because of their ability to recruit students to campus along with providing entertainment, Kulhanek said. ‘We put on many social functions, do community service and help to recruit musical students to the University,’ he said. USG Chief of Staff Nicole Fratianne suggested the musical organizations find new ways to raise funds. ‘I would suggest looking into new fundraising models,’ Fratianne said. To help the musical organizations receive more funding, Musical Arts Senator Tim Delnay said he plans on writing a resolution. ‘This concerns me since these are my constituents,’ Delnay said. ‘Also, many non-music majors participate in these programs so their existence is crucial.’

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