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The World Around Us

For us, the message of the university mission statement reveals three realities which must be faced in the next few years. First, the demographics of our service area indicate that the campus will enroll a growing percentage of non-traditional students. Second, while most students will arrive with may valuable qualities to offer, an increasing number will arrive with learning weaknesses. Third, CSUEB is becoming ever more international in involvement and composition. One other reality fills the thoughts of the campus-budget restraints.

As performing artists, we recognize several other realities of our environment. To begin with, the Euro-centric population in our service area will continue to provide a majority of the majors in performing arts for the next few years. Programs at high schools and community colleges are undergoing considerable change. Their arts programs are being cut in favor of the basics: in education, their arts facilities are being reduced. In many parts of the community the inherent value of performing arts as an education tool and a worthwhile career is still ignored. If these realities express the situation in CSUEB service areas, especially in the minority areas, it should be of considerable concern to the whole campus.

Definition of Department Mission

We recognize that work is still needed in the current planning period to achieve the vision set forth in our own department mission:
Theatre and Dance, as performing arts, provide a spark that transforms a person into a lifelong student. Across the campus we offer opportunities for participation both in production and in critical examination that help students to discover, accept, and express themselves as active, enlightened persons, and to know and appreciate the work and values of others. To succeed in their performances, students master world history as well as the theories of art and esthetics by use of the everyday practices of the liberal arts, including research, writing, figuring, reasoning, and experimentation. They learn practical, usable skills. Students experience the problems of making choices while on stage and off. They learn to recognize the connection between art and life, as well as to discover their own capacities to make choices as citizens, as creators of art, and as directors of their lives. To meet this mission, we prepare students for productive careers in performing arts, enlightened citizenship with an international and multicultural perspective, lifelong learning in the arts, and lifelong involvement in the arts. We enable students to effectively advocate for their art and for organizations which employ them; and, to clearly articulate the purpose of the performing acts in society. 

Our significant services to the university are in the areas of GE and production. We educate student body about the importance of the performing arts in their culture. We do this in such courses as literature, women's and ethnic literature, and children's literature, Theatre and dance history/literature classes; dance technique classes; children's drama and dance technique classes; among others. Students respond exceptionally well to the performance artists of our classes, so we are explaining use of these techniques in our own classes and creating new joint offerings with other departments. Also, we are increasing production opportunities for non-majors. We produce musicals, children's shows, drama and comedies, multicultural reader's theatre, ethnic theatre, once acts, performance art, dance recitals. live improvisation, and concerts. A variety of students, most majors and non-majors, already participate in the productions, especially in dance, multicultural theatre, and children's theatre. We also operate and maintain the University Theatre to provide a venue for a variety of campus and community events besides our own.

The Program

The program of Theatre and Dance is compact: With a small faculty (5 full time and about 2 are part-time) and staff (4 full-time), we maintain a Theatre Arts BA with five options. This recently revised major allows for specialization within a program which provides both theatrical skills and knowledge. For majors, the program emphasizes production. AS practicing artists, or majors continue to receive honors and recognition from the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (KC/ACTF) and the American College Dance Festival. Theatre and Dance productions have been invited to nearly every regional KC/ACTF in the last 10-12 years. Technical /design students have been consistently recognized over graduate students from other schools. Undergraduates perform in and design actual shows. There are more opportunities to perform here than at other Bay Area universities.

We create efficient methods of answering student needs. Two faculty members teach the acting sequence in alternate years. This gives students experience with two-distinct approaches. Combining intermediate and advanced levels of dance allows us to offer a wider range of technique classes. Our professional technical staff provides considerable instructional assistance in production courses.

Each year many young people and their families are exposed to CSUEB for the first time through our curricular and performance programs. Fifty-two majors participate in two dance concerts and eight or more fully produced shows. While majors fill the majority of the roles and crews in our shows, over twenty percent of participants are non-majors (over 50% in dance) Thirty percent of majors are minorities. We practice color-blind casting and our shows represent various issues, groups and cultures, including those of African-Americans, Filipino-Americans, Irish, women, and other international groups. The department also produces a full program during the summer quarter. Shows have toured to the international Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Almost all of our students participate in at least one summer theatre, some as high schools students. Thus, the summer theatre serves as a recruiting tool, as well. Both students and the community have a great interest in musicals. We try to offer one or two musicals watch year, one in the summer. The community has shown appreciation for our strong history of performing Children's Theatre. The audience for these shows currently numbers between 10,000 and 20,000 yearly. We also commit resources to high school outreach programs like our annual Shakespeare Festival, as well as dance and improvisation touring groups.

Over half of our faculty has participated in PACE. One faculty member serves on the statewide international programs committee. Two faculty members have taught GS 1000 and we teach at CSUEB Concord campus three quarters per year, including a Distance Learning course. CSUEB is a satellite site of the California Arts Project. This makes us eligible to become a full site with much better funding (currently $25,000) in the future. The local program is being run by Laura Renaud-Wilson (Dance lecturer) and the RFP was proposed with cooperation of theatre, dance, and teacher education faculty. We believe that these contributions are critical not only to our future of the performing arts and our own program, but also to the future of the university itself. We raised about $8,500 to support students participating in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe tour. This included grants from the Friends of the Arts, the Alumni Association, and Dutra Realty. We have also received funding from several government and community organizations to support the Alan Smith Symposium which has brought internationally recognized playwrights to CSUEB for brief residencies. The observations above indicate the strengths of our program. We efficiently meet and can continue to meet the needs of majors, general students, and the community with a varied, busy and efficient program.

Student success and demand

No one will fail, everyone is creative, everyone can flourish by discovering their creative talents. We promote these beliefs in class and in production. We measure success by acknowledging the paths taken by our former students, both majors and non-majors. Performing arts students are trained to work and think cooperatively and creatively. They study the worlds and humanity through the eyes of a psychologist, a political scientist, a historian, and a linguist. They develop good social skills and are motivated to work hard. They are challenged by new tasks and situations. Our graduates succeed in their employment and professional goals. Our former students work as corporate executives (Louise Bittner), teachers (Arlene Hood, Mary Ann Mackey, Angela Demmel, Lawanna Johnson, Kristin Porter), performs (Tom Ramirez, Ed Holmes, Drew Letchworth, Dan Ortega, Conrad Cimerra, Steve Lyon, Connie Aduviso, Mark Granahan, Kevin Scott, Lamont Coleman); designers (Steve Mannshardt, Cathy Poppe, Scott Chambliss, Bob Cardana, Ed Wright, Diane Rochlet-Harrel, Marta Gilberd); technicians (David Ledsinger, Scot McGeffey, Ed Kotchkiss, Andy Finco); arts administrators (Minnie Gibson, Steve Mannshardt, Calysta Alsborg, Dennene Tompkins); stagehand union leaders (Doug Catteaneo).

Schools across the country are admitting and graduating fewer undergraduates. This phenomenon is discussed at major professional conferences like those sponsored by KC/ACTF, the US Institute for Theatre Technology, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and others. We have consulted with production managers from major western regional theatres. These industry leaders find it difficult to recruit for their openings. Also, their past employees trained in performing arts have found it easy to transfer their breadth of skills and knowledge to a wide variety of jobs. Graduate schools recruit more heavily today and offer better scholarships. A survey of arts institutions in the Bay Area prepared for the new Arts Administration BA proposal, indicates there are plenty of arts administration jobs available. The career outlook and opportunity for higher education in performing arts is good.

High schools and community college arts programs are changing constantly due to reduced budgets and retirements. The decreased opportunities mean that fewer students will consider performing arts as a major. Also, as the percentage of minorities at the university increases, we foresee a decrease in the percentage of students majoring in the arts. This trend will continue until these groups become more established members of the educational community and develop participation patters similar to those of more traditional students. Still, most universities recognize the important role of performing arts in higher education and continue their commitment to maintain such programs. The factors mentioned here will result in a period of competition for performing arts majors at the undergraduate level.

Key Issues

Every major culture in world history has developed and supported performing arts. Arts provide enjoyment, education, room to think, emotional release, ability to view current and past problems, including proposed solutions, and visions of the future.

Non-major curriculum

Beyond our program for majors, we want to continue to make a contribution to GE on the campus. We would like to move in new directions. Our interesting feature of theatre and dance arts is that they combine aspects of so many other disciplines. This makes it easy and interesting to work and teach together with people in other fields. When theatre professors have gone abroad with professors from other departments over the past few years, they have team-taught challenging interdisciplinary classes, but back on campus they appear frustrated to attempt similar ventures. Applying the traditional formula for a course to a truly integrated class, where both professors prepare, attend, and grade together, yields only half the pay for each. Thus, the past system of encouragement pushes the burden back onto faculty. Some recent accommodations by CLASS have helped. More work is needed.

We are seeking opportunities to team our professors with those from another disciplines to develop courses integrating performance and performance analysis with writing, group collaboration, history and human relations. Performance techniques have the potential to increase accessibility of academic material. In a recent survey, one student stated that performance helped her to overcome doubts about her ability and to develop previously unknown talents. This recognition of a hidden talent releases intellectual ability and creates better thinkers and writers. The new CSUEB student can benefit from theatrical techniques introduced in interdisciplinary or integrated classrooms. Keeping the mission statement in mind, we believe that the campus needs to respond with a more diverse set of tools to handle learning deficits. Performing arts provide useful tools. We stand ready to participate in meeting the challenge of giving every CSUEB student the opportunity to maximize the potential of their education.

Proposed initiative

Whose responsibility is it to sell all of our state on the name and reputation of our campus? While the accomplishments of this department have begun to be recognized because of our participation in statewide and regional activities (e.g. ACTF), students still choose to attend other schools because of the other university's name and/or reputation. We work hard to recruit students both to CSUEB and to our department. Almost all of our recent new majors have come here as a result of individual discussions with the department chair, summer theatre participation, and recommendations by alumni. The most successful recruitment involves the personal appearance of an individual or group, especially faculty, staff and/or students. We have been sending small theatre and dance outreach groups to high schools each year-round touring companies to visit high schools and community events.

Our vision for a new program includes the creation of curriculum to support formation of a company of students from across the campus. The curriculum will cover writing and performing pieces dealing with current youth issues. The company will perform primarily in high schools around the state. A discussion of both the issues and the performance techniques will follow each performance. This approach has potential to highlight positive behaviors for situations in which youths find themselves today and to help young people develop a better understanding of higher education and a greater appreciation for both the rhetorical and artistic means of expression. We hope to attract writers and performers from the whole campus, in order to foster a wider appreciation of community service, scholarly pursuit, and artistic expression. This approach has been tested with impressive results on two previous occasions.

Projects like this do not fit the traditional course factors. They are such efforts worth some extra help to get them started. The true fruits of this idea can only be attained with consistency in leadership and offerings. We are seeking funding from both internal and external sources to test this outreach/curriculum program for three to five years. Our first priority for new faculty would be someone with an emphasis related to the qualities needed for this innovative outreach performance curriculum.

Cost of education for students

An even more pressing issue for students over the next few years will be the cost of their education. Theatre and Dance majors are already working students, who juggle their class schedule, jobs, and rehearsals. For growth, performing artists require substantial participation in the activity. Our best graduates will testify that the opportunity to perform in the University Theatre was the most significant aspect of their education at CSUEB. More scholarships and work-study would improve the quality of a performing arts education here. A performing arts fund-raiser is a possibility we have explored.

Equipment and facilities

The Theatre and Dance program is expensive, especially in facilities and equipment. Within the next five years, elements of the facilities and equipment we use (and also that which we administer for the use of the whole campus and community) will reach or exceed their normal life expectancy. Also, current technology is quickly providing new possibilities and efficiencies. For example, replacement lighting equipment would significantly decrease the cost of lamps and color filters. There are also more minor construction recommendations for the theatre than actually on the main university list. While university and school procedures for acquiring equipment and for minor construction exist, planning in this area could be improved. The present system is a yearly update of several lists. For us, all of these lists are long and the choices difficult. What seems to be missing is a practical means of long-range resource planning at the school and university levels. At least, the University Theatre staff and faculty, the actual users, seem to be too far removed from the existing process.

The department office is computerized, but software training is lacking. Faculty still do not have effective computers with network connections in their offices, so their motivation to move to a higher level of technological usage is minimal. Theatre production technology is moving along faster that we can keep up. The department manages a student digital lab with minimal facilities for computer drafting and sound. We are working on expansion of computer capability in the costume shop. In the technical areas, both faculty and staff need time for considerable training to catch up with current professional technology.

Dance

Budget pressures on campus will probably necessitate continuation of the current faculty allotment in the Dance program. The Dance program serves as a good example of efficiency and commitment. We have part-time lecturers filling the roles of about two FTEP. The part-time faculty make extraordinary contributions to advising, production, recruiting and special student programs. The dance faculty has developed an especially strong following among non-majors. Over half the students in our concerts are non-majors and many are minorities. In the recent admissions phone campaign, potential students of several majors have indicated that they look forward to opportunities like dance at CSUEB. We offer two dance productions each year. In the future dance faculty would like to emphasize dance education and using dance to help youth discover their intellectual abilities and potential.

Recent Responses to 1994 plan - Assessment, Advising, Retreats, Revision of Major

We need to know our new students as soon as possible to identify not only who they are, but also what talents they have. We are introducing a student assessment program which will follow students from their first to last quarter and on into their careers. Entry interviews will provide us with a positive tool to begin the process. We want to make self-assessment part of more classes and productions. Exit interviews and follow-ups will complete the process.

Another problem is that we often become so busy that some of us lose track of the continuity in our program. We have begun a process of departmental renewal by conducting yearly faculty/staff retreats to review instructional and professional beliefs in the department. As a result, strengths which we can build upon are more clear to us. As a group we are currently reviewing our courses. Course goals, learning methods, and means for students to demonstrate learning are being discussed and reconsidered for all classes. From the review process we expect to identify the distinguishing characteristics of our program, as well as to assure that current curriculum is coherent and that it is congruent with the needs of both an existing BA program and departmental GE goals. In the past this department has depended on both formal and informal feedback from students and former students. We conduct the usual course evaluations, invite students to participate in department meetings, and receive informal letters and visits from students and former students. We conduct outside peer reviews and alumni surveys every five years as part of the formal program review process. Professors Cate, Prindle, and Kaufman will be leading our new efforts at assessment, new major mentoring, and exit interviews. Other methods of assessment are being considered, including: more frequent alumni surveys and a process for input from various local communities (audiences, schools, employers, etc.).

In the meantime, we have met other stated goals by revising the department's advising system. Now, every member of the faculty advises students until the end of the junior year. Then, two faculty take over the process of graduation advising. Also, in the junior year each major must meet with the Chair to contract for specific production requirements.

In order to create opportunities for faculty to teach a greater range of courses and to ease the transfer of community college students, we have revised the BA. The modified degree allows students to select from a wider variety of courses. In literature and history we will be offering eight or more courses instead of four.

A Theatre and Dance Handbook for major and new major orientation is being developed.

Balance, innovation, and training

Theatre and Dance is interested in participating in the development of innovative programs and courses, but the potential for imbalance in our lives and department continues to be of great concern. The opportunities we propose do not necessarily fit into the traditional funding patterns of the campus. To take the innovative path requires work for which many are ill prepared and for which we have precious little time. Some are even concerned about taking time away from their students to write a grant, let alone to do a special project. Others find themselves ill equipped to venture into new pedagogy, new technology, and grantwriting. These concerns could be met by allowances for training, research, assistance, and time (as CLASS is beginning to support). Faculty in this department have not yet succeeded in bringing in substantial outside funding.

Everyone on the faculty and staff must fill their niche and still do much more. More means more than just teaching GE courses and keeping up with professional, university, and community obligations. The production program provides one example. Rehearsal for a show is usually scheduled for three or more hours per evening, five days per week, for four to seven weeks. A show rehearses at least one weekend and performs over the next two. Preparation and meeting take up more time. For all this, the directing professor receives credit for one class. One dance lecturer assumes significant production responsibility for even less credit. Technical and design professors have some responsibility for all the shows in a quarter, which creates a very irregular schedule for them. Even students, with commitments for classes, jobs and production, are stretched to the limit. On top of their commitments, the professors and staff in the department have each taken on the responsibility for various additional projects mentioned previously. This situation provides a picture of a system in dedicate balance.

Balance is of utmost importance to the people of our program. Our balance can be maintained as long as each person may continue to contribute to that part of the program for which they have expertise. We obtain the energy and motivation to extend ourselves from the pleasure and satisfaction of working in our specialty.

Conclusion

While this document does not respond to CAPR's questions in order, we believe that we have responded to the questions posed. To summarize, we see ourselves as efficient for our size. We serve the campus community as an academic program, as a cheerleader for GE, as a cultural resource, and as a practical resource. We have both immediate proposals for resources and long-range needs.

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