Fairmont State University Board of Governors voted in May to discontinue music and theater programs at the end of the next academic year.
It didn’t take long for an advocacy group to form, called Falcons Fighting for the Arts.
Over 1,700 people have signed a petition in support of reversing of the vote, according to the group. The decision was to discontinue theater, theater education, music and music education majors.
According to a release from the university, “neither academic program met governing standards and both programs were accompanied by large budget shortfalls.”
The university published a Q&A regarding the decision, stating the board of governors did not make the decision “lightly.”
Fairmont State did not provide officials for additional comments in time for this report.
The Falcons Fighting for the Arts will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday at East Marion Park, near the Wave Pool, Pavilion 1. This event will highlight how the Fairmont State University music and theater programs positively affected students and enhanced the quality of life in Marion and the surrounding counties.
Celi Oliveto — a member of the group — said as a lover of the arts, her personal mission is to advocate for the quality academic theater program as well as love for the fine arts.
“My students deserve to have access to these programs,” Oliveto said. “It’s really going to have far-reaching consequences in our area.”
As a teacher and Fairmont State alumna, Oliveto said she loves to see her students grow and develop.
“As the theater director, I get to see the students who are involved in theater grow in confidence and come out of their shells as a result of having been a part of those programs,” Oliveto said. “With less programs to train fine arts educators, opportunities for those students in our school systems will be greatly diminished.”
The group has questions about the future of students already in the programs.
In a press release, Falcons Fighting for the Arts spokesman Kurtis Dennison said, “We welcome the opportunity to discuss the reasons for the decision and are willing to assist the university in creating a plan for maintaining and sustaining music and theatre on campus and in the community.”