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Lyceum, a program that organizes concerts, recitals, art exhibitions and other events on campus, has been defunded. Its dissolution has been attributed to budgetary issues, partly deriving from a decline in student enrollment for the 2017-18 academic year.
Lawrence Potter, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, created Lyceum in 2016 as a way of organizing music, theater, photography, art and art history departments under one program to highlight the co-curricular experience the University offers.
“When there are enrollment dips and there are no margins for revenue, then you have to think about where to make appropriate cuts,” Potter said. “So Lyceum as you know it will not exist in its full form next year.”
For the past two years, Lyceum has been the driving force behind most large scale arts events at the University, many of which had significant allocated budgets. This year, the Wells Fargo Foundation has partly sponsored Lyceum, but otherwise, no additional funding has been received.
“A particular speaker can be $10,000,” Potter said. “A performer can be anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. An exhibition, including set-up, break down, honoraria, could be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.”
Provost Jonathan Reed said that while Lyceum is being defunded on an administrative level, departmental budgets have not been cut.
“The dollar amounts available (in department budget) to bring in guest speakers has not changed,” Reed said. “So, hopefully, we will still be able to get high quality, nationally renowned people coming to the University.”
Jon Leaver, chair of the art and art history department, said that cutting Lyceum has the potential to cause further decline in enrollment for arts students looking for a profound artistic experience.
“I always think if an institution leads and is proud of its artistic output in support of the arts, that it attracts a certain kind of student that is receptive to that type of thing,” Leaver said. “If (Lyceum) is not there, then yes, that could potentially happen.”
Despite the lack of funding, Leaver is also hopeful that Lyceum as a brand can be salvaged in some capacity.
“I’m involved in discussions with the provost now to somehow extend it,” Leaver said. “I have been advocating for it very fiercely.”
Leaver said that the final decision will likely be made after he has had the opportunity to present a proposal for a reduced Lyceum.
Leaver attributes a significant portion of Lyceum’s value to its ability to provide a unique outlet for faculty collaboration.
“One of the things that Lyceum forced us to do was collaborate and to plan ahead of time so that we were aware of what each other were doing, and that allowed us to…organize programs around broad and shared themes and ideas,” Leaver said. “I think that could go away if Lyceum goes away.”
Even if concerts, exhibitions and other events do continue, some members of Lyceum believe that the arts events can lose some of their significance.
Dion Johnson, director of art galleries and distinguished artist, compared the cohesion Lyceum provided to the organization of a farmer’s market.
“A farmer’s market is a great thing to visit because you get to engage with vendors and craft persons in a concentrated, well-organized place,” said Johnson. “On their own, it’s not that impactful.”
Leaver said that Lyceum provides more to the university than just an outlet for arts events.
“What Lyceum has evolved into…is a venue for discussions about identity and difference in culture and how culture manifests itself,” Leaver said. “That set of ideas, I think, are really kind of relevant and interesting and applicable to our students right now.”
ULV lists supporting “a diverse and inclusive environment where students recognize and benefit from the life experiences and viewpoints of other students, faculty and staff” as part of its core mission.
“In the absence of Lyceum, I fear that it is not going to be as visible on campus,” Leaver said. “I think that it is a shame, because one of the things that I think that the University of La Verne is really good at is exposing that richness in a really accessible way.”
The defunding will also cause the one administrative support position tied to Lyceum to be cut, despite the value faculty places on the position.
“From my point of view, the most important thing is administrative support,” Leaver said.
Rebecca Garcia, who was hired on as the administrative support coordinator for Lyceum on Aug. 15, 2016, believes that the defunding of Lyceum is indicative of a trend for funding through the arts department.
“Working in arts, working in music, working in theater, I can see that those departments don’t seem to get a lot of funding,” Garcia said. “You can tell the minute you walk into the theater that it could use upgrades and certainly the art department doesn’t seem to get a lot of funding in general.”
Her position has remained temporary through her employment at ULV, and is set to expire at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2018. As a result of Garcia’s position being cut, organization and development surrounding La Verne arts events has already started to face difficulties.
“This time, by every March, the line up is done, we have drafts of what the publicity would look like, we’re preparing to go to print, and we have none of that now,” Potter said.
Despite hosting countless events over the past two years, Leaver believes that Lyceum was never allowed to grow to its full potential.
“It was never fully funded and realized,” Leaver said. “It was always a bit temporary, which means that the dean and administration had to do a lot of the organizing.”
Aryn Plax can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christian Shepherd can be reached at email@example.com.