Theater community supports UMKC Theatre program after recent announcement of budget cuts

Posted at 4:51 AM, Jun 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-05 06:43:27-04

It was a packed house Sunday evening at the Spencer Theatre on UMKC’s campus.

Former students, faculty and some members of the community gathered to express their support of the theater program. 

The department has to cut 16 percent of its budget. 

“We cut so much that we can either have students with no one to teach them, or we can pay for faculty and have no graduate students in our MFA programs,” Professor and UMKC chair Tom Mardikes said. “We’ve been cut to the point where we cannot provide the programs that we have drawn these young people of Kansas City to do.”

Taylor Neill, 21, said she came from Los Angeles to be part of this program.

“Kansas City itself is a city that’s built on theatre,” Neill said. “It’s built on arts, it’s built on culture and we need it to survive.”

In a statement UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said:

“The University is solving $20 to $30 million deficit based on cuts in our state appropriations and that will impact our operations for the foreseeable future.”

“When 80 to 90 percent of your costs is in people, it’s hard to do without touching people in some way,” Morton said.  

Morton stated the university has no intention of ever eliminating the program, but the university has to be mindful of costs in order to support a wide range of programs.

“When you’re faced with the kinds of cuts we’re faced with, you have to stand up and make some difficult decisions,” Morton said.

The latest round of cuts will eliminate four positions to the program.

“Theater is laced into everything that we do and if we start devaluing it now, then the whole infrastructure of this world is going to fall apart,” Neill said. 

Mardikes said the program is already down four positions due to cuts in the past.

Other UMKC programs and positions that are impacted are libraries, the Bloch school, Facilities, Arts & Sciences and Student Affairs.

In intercollegiate athletics, roughly $1.3 million will be cut in staff positions, operating expenses and scholarships.

For a detailed look at UMKC’s budget plan, click here.