By Betty Villalobos
As budget cuts threaten Long Beach City College academic programs, students in the music department link arms and stand ground against the menacing boulder heading directly towards the Recording Engineering and Record Producer programs.
LBCC Board of Trustees voted to cut 17 academic programs and $2 to $8.4 million for the 2013-14 year in a Sept. 25 meeting.
The cuts will damage the career aspirations for students like Daniel Garcia, a sophomore TV production major and music minor, he said.
“It’s like, what am I going to do? It’s a panic,” said Garcia.
In an attempt to protest the potential cut, the Recording Engineering Department is getting the ball rolling on a campaign.
Nancy Allen, lead instructor and program director, formed an online survey for students to fill out. In addition, Allen gathered over 300 testimonials from students and supporting alumni describing the program’s positive effect on their lives and careers.
The department presented the testimonials and surveys to Executive Vice President of Academic, Affairs Gaither Lowenstein, and Creative Arts Dean, Dina Humble on Oct. 2, Allen said. The presentation was the first step in fighting to keep the program standing. The BOT will present final decisions as recommended by the superintendent and LBCC president on program cuts in early 2013, according LBCC Program Discontinuance documents.
Student Robert Espinoza created the Facebook event SWARM to rally students in a protest against the program dismissal during John Lennon’s Educational Tour Bus passing through LBCC. The date is to be announced, Espinoza said.
Currently there are four instructors and 448 students in the Recording Engineering and Record Producer Programs. Instructors Allen and Charles Gutierrez are at-risk of losing their jobs, Allen said.
The Recording Engineering and the Record Producer Program offers hands-on learning for production in TV, radio, music concert recording, web audio, sound effects design, and more. Students can start at the beginning level classes and advance into the intermediate and advanced level classes, depending on previous experience.
Allen, who often takes student crews to professional music productions for all-access experience, is worried about compromising students’ opportunities.
“I try to them out and get them real experience,” she said. “Its what they need. These guys can go into a studio and start working immediately.”
Allen said program alumnus have been successful in the industry, some holding executive director jobs with Disney, AT&T, and worked with Hollywood television productions like The Voice.
The direct access to expensive and advanced machinery is what Garcia values the most. “That’s what I love about it, you can be doing your own [project], and oh yeah we learned that in class and we apply it. That’s how we learn,” he said.
Fortunately for him, he has taken a lot of the recording classes already. However, Garcia said he is worried about his peers just coming into the program.
If the cut is approved, 17 classes will be dismissed and take affect in June 2013, leaving LBCC students lacking proper instruction. “I guess my only option is to focus on my general education and transfer out,” Garcia said.
Like many other students, Garcia enrolled at LBCC specifically for the hands-on program he wants and needs. “All the equipment here makes me get all the experience I can’t get anywhere else,” he said.
Other local junior colleges offer only some classes but no full program. Cypress College offers six classes and a Recording Arts Certificate, while Cerritos College only offers three classes and a certificate. California State University Long Beach offers a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Music Composition, but only five classes are dedicated to the hands on composition training.
Frank Prinzen, a freshman advanced student, will also be distraught if the program is cut.
“There’s only so many programs across the United States that offer what LBCC offers,” he said. “We’re really engineering here. When it comes to recording engineering, you’re not just a musician, you’re not just an artist, you’re also a scientist.”
Prinzen described the production process as a challenging and underrated study.
“I think that every person here is really completely dedicated, it’s just the complexity of the science is not understood by most people,” Prinzen said. “We’re furthering the science everyday.”
Students will be forced to enroll in non-profit organizations, which are far more expensive, said Marshall Fullbright, Music Department Chair. Mark Taylor, LBCC Director of College Advancement, Public Affairs, & Governmental Relations, said there is a plan for students if their program is discontinued.
“If the decision is made to a cut the program [of any given student], then we would find similar programs for them in nearby city colleges,” Taylor said.
With Hollywood’s music industry within proximity, cutting one of the only record producing programs in the Long Beach area is a major concern to instructors.
“Here there are huge amounts of theatres, movies, TV, and music shows. Recording arts is part of everything,” Fullbright said. “For this area, it would be detrimental.”
“I don’t know what Southern California is going to do without us,” Allen said.
New America Media’s youth-led VoiceWaves has partnered with the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) to produce content for VoiceWaves.org. The Journalism Senior Seminar challenges students to build on their journalism skills covering diverse neighborhoods throughout Long Beach. The CSULB students will report and produce stories that raise awareness of neighborhood issues and concerns in four Long Beach communities: North Long Beach, Central Long Beach, Downtown, and the Westside.