‘A dream crusher’: VIU considers cuttings all music programs to balance its budget


Carrying his guitar to play on a sunny downtown Nanaimo sidewalk Monday didn’t bring Jake Moreno a paycheque, but the 22-year-old was living his dream, sharing one of his newly written songs with his hometown.

“It’s everything. I like music more than food,” Moreno told CHEK News outside the Vault Cafe.

The Nanaimo man hopes to go far with it and dreamed of taking music at Vancouver Island University (VIU), until learning that the university is proposing cutting the entire music department to balance its budget.

“I’m just learning about it, and I’m already brainstorming ways to keep that from (happening),” said Moreno.

“I think the impact is massive or potentially massive. I mean this isn’t a finalized decision, it’s still going to a vote to my understanding,” said Nico Rhodes, a professional musician in Nanaimo and former student of VIU’s music program.

“A dream crusher without a doubt. Without a doubt, it would change people’s lives,” said Rhodes.

“I mean, that program changed my life. It changed the lives of countless musicians I know who have made a living for decades, across the country, internationally.”

According to a statement from VIU, as a public secondary institution, it is mandated to balance its budget, and decisions to cancel programs aren’t made lightly, but enrollment and the costs of the music program have identified it as an opportunity for cuts.

“If a decision to cancel the programs is made, VIU will not launch the new Diploma of Jazz Studies and will cancel the Bachelor of Music…” continued the statement provided by VIU communications manager Jenn McGarrigle.

“All students currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Music program will be fully supported to meet the requirements to graduate with a Bachelor of Music.”

According to VIU Music Department chair Dr. Sasha Koerbler, the proposed cuts will impact generations of talent.

“We are greatly disturbed by that decision and hoping that the senate will reconsider it,” Koerbler told CHEK News Monday.

The proposed cuts must still go to several votes.

So Nanaimo musicians aren’t giving up hope that the music programs that once polished a small-town talent named Diana Krall into an international star may still teach some more.

READ ALSO: UVic slashes budget by $13M, blames lack of international students

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