NSCAD in the Red flag at Granville campus (Photo: Kelly Graham)

Friends of NSCAD petition 6,000 strong and counting

A collective has organized the ‘Friends of NSCAD’ petition in light of the school’s current budget crisis and the impending Windsor report

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Nova Scotia College of Art and Design is short on funds but has lots of support as the community anxiously awaits the findings of a provincial government report on the school’s future. 

The Windsor report

The university is currently grappling with a deficit of more than $2 million, according to an article published in The Coast on Nov. 10. Howard Windsor, who was appointed by Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More in September, is conducting the report that will analyze NSCAD’s options.

Although Windsor has kept his research under wraps, the Advanced Education department's media contact, Karen Stone, says, “All options are still on the table,” and a merger with a larger university such as Dalhousie University is a possibility. Windsor’s findings are due next week.

Dal is no stranger to takeovers. More than a decade ago, Dal absorbed the Technical University of Nova Scotia. Additionally, discussions about the future of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College as an independent school are ongoing.

The petition

Several grassroots campaigns have sprung up in response to the situation. One example is the Friends of NSCAD petition, which has been circulating around Halifax and online. The purpose of the petition is to try to get as many signatures as possible from people who want to keep NSCAD intact and funded.

John Mabley, Vice President of NSCAD University Relations, works to advocate and fundraise on behalf of the school. Mabley says the goal of the Friends of NSCAD petition is “to raise awareness, and also to attract more donors, even at modest amounts.”

The effort is “being organized by an external group of students, friends, supporters and faculty,” Mabley says. “There is a large group of people who are concerned about NSCAD’s future and want to provide support. One means that they can do so is this petition.”

Andrew Maize, who is in his final year of an interdisciplinary degree at NSCAD, was at the farmer’s market last weekend to tell shoppers and merchants about the university’s situation. He has been involved with promoting the petition and getting signatures.

Maize says the petition, which has been around since early October, aims to get 10,000 people to sign their names by the time Windsor’s report is released. So far “it’s been really successful, we have over 6,000 signatures,” Maize says.

Other efforts to support NSCAD

The petition is just one of several efforts around the city directed at helping NSCAD preserve its independence. Maize also helped spearhead the NSCAD in the Red campaign, an art installation project that has hung red flags around the Granville campus to call attention to the school’s budgetary problems.

Jian Ghomeshi, host of the CBC radio program “Q”, opened his show on Nov. 14 with an essay on NSCAD’s history and its standing as a venerable Canadian arts institution.

“It would be a shame to see NSCAD broken up or merged or worse," Ghomeshi said in his essay.

Nova Scotia Needs NSCAD is another prominent campaign, which was put into action by the president of the student union at NSCAD, Robyn Touchie. Readers can head over to the organization's website for more information on the petition and other concerted efforts to support one of Canada’s oldest independent cultural education centres.

Maize says supporting NSCAD now is crucial for Halifax because “people appreciate the vibrant culture in Halifax.

“Without NSCAD we would just be another shipping, military” and regular college town, he says.

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