UKZN music in danger

2014-09-11 00:00

DURBAN’S university music halls could be silenced if urgent funding is not found.

The department, which has been in existence for over 40 years and falls under the School of Arts (SoA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has revealed its deepest concerns in a 44-page self-evaluation report.

Lecturers said their health was being compromised by mould in the building, which was also destroying equipment and music records, and that they felt threatened by vagrants sleeping on the opera studio and choral academy’s (Osca) verandah.

Lecturers listed a litany of complaints that included insecurity over funding of part-time lecturers thereby threatening courses and the continual state of “crisis mode”.

The confidential report — seen by The Witness — forms part of a review of the music department currently under way.

The university has been in a state of upheaval since the institution embarked on a complete overhaul of its structure to cut costs, streamline courses and implement a new vision spearheaded by the vice chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgoba with the biggest change being the compulsory requirement that all students must study isiZulu.

“Many feel that management make decisions in a way that is completely disconnected from the teaching staff. Management has unfortunately [taken the view] that academics are an impediment to the institution rather than key to it”.

But the SoA’s acting HoD Professor Johannes Smit said the review is a necessary process being undertaken by all schools and colleges in the university.

“When I read the staff’s evaluation I immediately asked for their complaints around the state of their buildings and equipment to be inspected. I did not know they were operating in such conditions,” said Smit.

But the lecturers believe the inability to pay part-time staff in 2015 could lead to slashing of courses on offer.

“There is an overwhelming sense of uncertainty about the budget for part-time staff in 2015. This is seen as a potential crisis,” said the report.

The report said the cutbacks have also resulted in less time for research while the library, described as the “finest in the country, if not in Africa” — whose books and music are being damaged by mould — is slowly being stripped of its records.

“Many of us suspect that [the mould] is having an effect on our health as we now suffer from extreme allergies and respiratory disorders which have been medically diagnosed as a result of constant exposure to mould,” said the report.

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