Vancouver students stage silent orchestra to protest budget cuts to music programs

WRITTEN BY: Tammy Kwan

“I want to apologize to you for all the grownups who make funding decisions. The grownups have failed you,” Tovey said into a megaphone. “We need to have grownups that say music must be part of the school curriculum.”

The strings and band program operates in 44 Vancouver schools. It is estimated that cutting it would save the district just under $400,000 per year.

In 2015, the yearly fee to participate in the band program was upped from $25 to $50 in an effort to make the continuation of the program more feasible.

However, VSB chair Mike Lombardi said in March that senior management proposals called for the elimination of the program unless the provincial government provided the VSB with additional funding. 

One of the students at the protest expressed his passion for the program.

“We’re depriving kids of an opportunity that they have had under the Vancouver public school system since it was instated,” said Xiaoyu Huang, a member of Sir Winston Churchill Secondary’s music council.

“The impact on kids who have been in a program, and are now removed from it, is especially devastating because it’s an interest that can blossom into something for the rest of their lives,” he added.

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