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AGSEM Executive Committee's Statement on McGill Conservatory Closing

Montreal, August 16, 2022

The Executive Committee of the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) condemns the decision of the Schulich School of Music (SSoM) to close the McGill Conservatory, and we stand in solidarity with the dozens of workers who are set to lose their jobs by the end of the summer.

The McGill Conservatory, founded in 1904, is an essential link between McGill and the broader Montreal community, making music instruction accessible to learners of all ages. It also provided teaching opportunities to many SSoM students and musicians early in their careers.

The decision to close the McGill Conservatory is a prime example of administrative doublespeak. The Schulich School of Music’s own Strategic Plan (2020–25) emphasizes community outreach through the McGill Conservatory. Not two full years after this plan was adopted, the Conservatory is shutting its doors without consultation with stakeholders.

The reasoning behind the decision to close the Conservatory, as stated by outgoing Dean Brenda Ravenscroft and incoming Dean Sean Ferguson, was a financial decision due to low enrolment numbers. However, at a “Town Hall” on June 28, 2022 after the decision was announced, it became clear that scheduled renovations would make it difficult to schedule spaces for music studios. The lack of space would lower the enrollment of the Conservatory to levels that would not be able to sustain this self-funded program.

The solution, thus, seems relatively straightforward: find a temporary space for Conservatory lessons to continue during building renovations. The community outcry in response to the decision to close the Conservatory should be enough for the SSoM administration to find the will to reverse their decision and find a solution to keep this vital institution open.

We invite AGSEM members to sign the petition organized by the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU) calling on the Schulich School of Music to reverse their decision.

—The Executive Committee of the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM)


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