As campus faces numerous changes this semester, the Theatre Department has not been immune to the reprioritization of budgets.
This month closed “All Shook Up”, the Lyceum Theater’s first production of the season. In a pre-show speech, it was announced that the Theatre Department’s scholarship funding has been cut in half, severely affecting the ability of the department to award scholarships to incoming musical theatre students. On behalf of his fellow students, musical theatre major and senior Andreas Schmidt petitioned the audience to support future theatre students in donating specifically toward the scholarship fund.
The Musical Theatre Triple Threat Scholarship was first introduced in 2013 as a full-ride scholarship, awarded to 5 freshman of Musical Theatre concentration. After 2015, the name was changed to Musical Theatre Talent Scholarship and no longer offered tuition paid in full. Now it has been announced that the scholarship funding has been slashed, striking worry in the minds of current students as they wonder what the future holds.
Schmidt heard about Vanguard from a Christian college fair, and the department’s full-tuition scholarships was one of the biggest draws of the university.
“That immediately put Vanguard on my map,” Schmidt said. “When I got the scholarship, it was the reason why I came here.”
As an institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre–a title held by only a handful of private christian universities–Vanguard’s competitive scholarship allows it to match strength with its larger, public competitors. Without it, Schmidt explained there he had no other reason to choose Vanguard. With the decreased funding, Schmidt worries that number of students interested in the department will take a serious dip, especially students of the same caliber of talent as previous years.
Schmidt, and his fellow senior classmates are not the only ones who voiced their concern. Freshman musical theatre major Karli Strate thinks the lack of funding might attract less talent and “bring the program down.” In her opinion, Vanguard faces a serious uphill climb if it cannot compete financially with its theatre program rivals.
In addition to the inevitable decline in interest, losing scholarship funding creates a less challenging and less competitive environment for the theatre students.
The scholarship is awarded to triple-threat students after a rigorous audition process. The students perform a song, dance and monologue to briefly showcase their abilities in hopes of receiving the award. Since only about 5 students per class receive financial aid, students must bring their A-game. If the ability to offer a scholarship is revoked, theatre majors fear they will have nothing challenging them and pushing them to succeed except their self-determination.
Now, a new fear arises for theatre students. When a handful of students who are awarded financial aid for their talent are fighting for the same roles as non-scholarship recipients, it creates a real-world environment that prepares them for a career in the arts. Without competitive preparation, these theatre students risk entering post-grad life with false confidence and insufficient perseverance.