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Arts & Culture

UCSD Lays Off 21 People From Department of Theater, Dance

Will Widick, prop shop foreman at UCSD's Department of Theater and Dance, shows ff some of his work. Nov. 25, 2016.
Katie Schoolov
Will Widick, prop shop foreman at UCSD's Department of Theater and Dance, shows ff some of his work. Nov. 25, 2016.

Decision reflects changing relationship with La Jolla Playhouse

UCSD Lays Off 21 People From Department of Theater, Dance
UCSD informed 21 members of the Department of Theater and Dance on Nov. 9 that their jobs would end in January.

UCSD informed 21 members of the Department of Theater and Dance on Nov. 9 that their jobs would end in January.

The restructuring also reflects the changing relationship between the university and La Jolla Playhouse. In the past, these employees would also work on productions at the playhouse.

Will Widick has been with UCSD for 14 years but his job will end in January.

Widick worries that by talking about the recent layoffs he is putting his job and his future job prospects on the line. But, he said, he wanted to discuss the restructuring because many others were afraid to speak out.

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"We’ve been permanently laid off — I think should be more adequately described," Widick said. "And the new positions, a couple of the departments have been combined, positions have been lost there, none of us have been guaranteed the new positions, all the new positions are paid at a lower, simply put, paid at a lower pay scale."

"It’s classification is lower than we are at now and new hires are being hired at the mid-range of even that lower pay scale," he said. "So for most of us, all of us it will be a minimum of 25 percent pay cut, but for many it will be closer to 40 and 45 pay cut."

He said that La Jolla Playhouse has posted three positions and the university is posting positions that laid-off theater and dance employees can reapply for at the lower pay scale.

"I think that the university’s decision to restructure the department does in many ways, many of us believe this is a reflection of their changing attitudes and their commitment to the arts and we’re not isolated in this whole concept of defunding and otherwise eliminating aspects of the fine arts education that this university provides," Widick said. "These decisions that they are making with the various other departments whether it is ArtPower or other elements of the fine arts being defunded and removed that in many ways we feel that as artists and as artisans that not only is our work not appreciated but that artists don’t feel safe in this new university environment."

Widick started a Facebook page to encourage public support of the theater and dance people who have lost their jobs and to urge people to comment about the university’s recent actions

The Theater and Dance layoff come on the heels of the university attempting to close the University Art Gallery and the layoff of Rebecca Webb, who was the film curator for UCSD's ArtPower.

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