NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Arts & Design endangerment

Could the Arts & Design major disappear from campus?

With budget cuts to public institutions occuring in the past few years, arts programs all over the nation have been the first to suffer. According to a professor of NECC, The Arts & Design program has approximately 111 students enrolled. With the removal of the Theater and Dance majors, this has left students of the art and design program concerned. Which raises the question of could this program be cut in the future?

Professor Bryan Ward has been teaching Art & Design at NECC since 1999, and has been an integral part in helping develop to program throughout the years. “NECC is the only school in the area that offers photography, video, and graphic design at an affordable rate.” says Ward. “Lawrence and Haverhill are booming art communities, but they need someplace to go if students decide to study [arts] academically.” According to Ward, the Arts and Design major takes up about 15% of the student body, and rose by 7% this year. “It saddens me to see what we have rebuilt over the years being dismantled.”

“It saddens me to see what we have rebuilt over the years being dismantled.”

Bryan “Biff” Ward

Many students are required to take an arts class to complete their majors, whether they are art majors or they need to fill out an elective. According to art students, there are less art classes being offered to them at a less consistent rate. Classes may be offered once a year or be dropped altogether, causing change to required classes to complete the major. It is then they are forced to take alternative classes to fulfill credits that they oftentimes don’t need for transfer.

“I think that art classes should be open to anyone who wants to take them. You need a well-rounded education, and you never know where people’s ideas can come from to benefit the future.” says Michael Penta, a Computer and Information Science Professor.

“The options that students have [here] is limited and it makes no sense.” says Reniel Fanini, an Arts & Design major. Fanini intends to utilize his degree at NECC to become an architect. However he has found that since starting, the faculty is pushing him to continue his education at Northern Vermont University. “My professor asked me if I wanted to do a partnership with NVU which is pushing Graphic Design onto other art students. That is not what I want to do.”

“Vermont is going to find a way to cater to the students here.” says Penta.

“Students save money by studying arts at NECC because they cannot afford to go to universities. There is also the issue of commuting for students who don’t have a car. Schools like Middlesex Community College is really far for a lot of people.” says Ariana Caraballo- Sanchez, another Arts & Design Major.

Within the past few years Lawrence and Haverhill has had what can be described as an “art renaissance”. Community organizations, such as Elevated Thought in Lawrence, cater to children and teenagers in the area promoting social justice, beautification projects, and more. They have made several appearances at NECC, promoting their work to students to inspire them.

“Programs like Elevated Thought show that there is an art community within lower class areas.” says Ward.

Throughout the entire month of November, the arts room in the library held a photography showcase for photographer Lloyd Ziff who has worked with several newspapers and magazines such as Rolling Stone.

However for many students this news has seemed to fly right by them. Ziff’s photography showcase was advertised on the electric board at the main entrance of the campus. There were also press releases and emails sent out across the school, and even the NECC Observer did a coverage. Despite all of that, it did not get people’s attention.

“If my professor Mark Mannheimer hadn’t told me about Ziff, I wouldn’t have known about him.” says Luke Lustenberger an Arts & Design major. “The school relies on its students to advertise these things, and the events usually take place a weird day when there’s not that many students on campus.”

“I think the school needs to start getting more involved with high school students to promote their arts programs, that is the best way they can gain future NECC students.” says Carabello- Sanchez.  “Lots of our students in the past have gotten into top schools around the nation. One student even got a job with Reebok.” says Ward.  Ward has created an instagram page profiling current students and alumni work. Within the first week of its creation, it had garnered more than 270 followers. “The page is linked with the Essex community, art organizations, and professors at other colleges. People see it, and they know that we are active.” says Ward.  To follow and support the Arts & Design program, you can follow them on Instagram @neccartdesign.