A strong grassroots campaign has been mounted by students and lecturers alike in reaction to the controversial news that UEA is to potentially close its Music department.
Protesters have adorned campus in ‘Save UEA Music’ banners and have manned stalls spreading information on the topic. Music students have been accompanied by their lectures to busk in the Square at lunchtimes as a form of creative protest against the detailed plans.
Additionally to this, a spirited petition to save the department has arisen. According to the Save UEA Music campaign (twitter.com/SaveUEAMusic), over 1,800 signatures have been garnered after just two days. These will have been largely drawn from the student body as volunteer students have been visible on campus publicizing the petition, however, it can also be found online at the Save UEA Music Facebook page.
The ripple of outrage has spread further than UEA’s lake, it seems, as one of the signatories is the famous musician, Brian Eno. As well as his pledge of support, during the visit of Radio 1’s Student Tour to campus on Thursday, a signature was also procured from DJ Zane Lowe.
The Music department has been without direct representation for some years as the Head of School, Prof David Chadd, passed away in 2006 and was not replaced for three years. This left the School of Music unrepresented without a Head or a Chair.
Professor John Charmley, Head of the School of History, was appointed as Acting Head of School in 2009, and has retained this position ever since. Music students claim that they have been under-represented since as far back as 2006, due to their negligible amount of representation coming through someone from a different branch of academia.
Denis Smalley, a former music lecturer at UEA from 1976-1994, commented on the issue, stating: “Small student numbers, coupled with the unwillingness of a university to move student numbers over to music make for a toxic mix.”
Save UEA Music has organised a planning and discussion meeting on Wednesday 2 November in a bid to consolidate its position and keep the campaign moving forward at the speed it has recently experienced.
The meeting will be held in the afternoon from 4-5pm, in Union House, Room 1.28. It will also provide a springboard for ideas as to how the campaign should organise its planned protest for 9 November; the date the UEA Senate meets to discuss the future of the Music department. It should be noted that the Senate will not make a decision on the manner, as Vice-Chancellor Edward Acton states. This decision ‘rests’ with Council on 28 November.
For further information on the proposal to disband the School of Music, visit www.ueastudent.com where you can sign the petition, view the proposal to close the School in full, and find additional information on the Save UEA Music campaign. Save UEA Music has both Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as a website – saveueamusic.tumblr.com.
With the intense emotions and deep frustration the proposal has sparked, and the rapid speed at which the campaign has been launched and garnered significant support, it appears that UEA’s music students are far more prepared to perform for free than write a requiem.