Is Performing Arts the Future for Durham College?

Photo by Michael Bromby

Greg Murphy standing next to the Media Art and Design sign.

William Shakespeare once said “The object of art is to give life shape.”

Many students at Durham College can relate to this because they are in arts programs, including Photography, Fine Arts, and Video Editing. However, although the college has several arts programs, it does not have a performing arts course. That’s disappointing to some students.

Alexander Kocot, president of the Durham-UOIT drama club, says something is missing from Durham College without this program.

“It’s strange, it feels like there is something lacking from the entire situation, when there is no reason for it to be lacking,” he said.

Kocot says a theatre arts program is a way to educate people and a way for students to make connections after they finish school.

Kocot says 40 to 50 new people show interest in the drama club each year but go to other schools such as Ryerson University and York University because of their performing arts programs.

He says it might be too late to get a program now because there are so many other schools with strong programs. He says Durham College would go unnoticed.

“The only people that would come are people who couldn’t get into the other places, or aren’t confident enough to try-out for the other places,” said Kocot.

Robert Pellegrino of Artists Den, says the school loses revenue by not having a performing arts program. He says his daughter is a dancer and would love to stay close to home but must move further away to go to school.

Pellegrino says his daughter would consider going to Durham for performing arts and thinks a lot of others would as well, not just people in theatre arts.

Greg Murphy, dean of the school of Media art and Design, is a fan of performing arts. He says you learn to use your body as an instrument to tell stories. But he says having performing arts at Durham College would take away from other arts programs.

“The other programs can’t afford to have theatre arts as a competitor because it’s so hungry,” said Murphy “It is compatible with our programs, it’s just competitive as well.”

He calls theatre arts a “money hungry” program. Murphy says there should be more funds to support performing arts, but he needs to make sure current programs have the right funding, and needs improve upon those that don’t.

Murphy says performing arts is already competitive, and it needs financial resources. Performing arts would take away from making other programs stronger and meeting other needs.

Murphy says if he had extra space to use it wouldn’t go to performing arts. It would go to interactive programs, a proper broadcast centre, and proper galleries.

So is there a future for performing arts on campus?

“Realistically, I doubt it,” said Murphy