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Alumni speaks out against cuts to GPRC music programs

At least one member of the Grande Prairie community is demanding a reversal to cuts of the wind ensemble, the jazz ensemble, and woodwind lessons at Grande Prairie Regional College. On April 26th, former instructor Robert Howey posted on Facebook that the college had cut the wind and jazz ensembles as well as woodwind lessons at the end of March, and, as a result, he is out of a job.

In a written statement sent to MyGrandePrairieNow.com, Interim Vice-President, Academic and Research, Dr. Vanessa Sheane says, “the reduction of credit courses was a strategic academic decision based on enrollment.”

GPRC Music alumni Travis Fowler says it wasn’t just the news of the programs going by the wayside that upsets him, the arts community, and the community of Grande Prairie as a whole. It is what the program meant and the impact that people like Howey made in the lives of those involved.

“The quality of life Dr. Bob creates in his programs are further reaching than the college knows. What they’re not taking into account is how this decision based on numbers and finances will affect the whole community of Grande Prairie.”

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Fowler says he believes the loss of the programs will have a big effect on one of the key things that bring the citizens in Grande Prairie together.

“This goes to the heart of our community in the art and culture part of Grande Prairie as well. That’s one of the beautiful things about Grande Prairie. Yes, we’re a hardworking northern town; we actually have an amazing arts and culture community as well.”

Fowler wants citizens of Grande Prairie to reach out to the college and local MLAs to push for the college to bring the program back.

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