Vancouver Island University (VIU) is cancelling its music programs for the 2024-2025 school year in a move that has both shocked and stunned the music community in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

On May 23, the university’s board of governors voted to cancel its longstanding music programs, including the Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, Bachelor of Music – Classical Transfer and the Jazz Studies Diploma. The board cited the program’s low enrolment as one of the reasons for the cut as the university faces a $20 million deficit.

Starting in 1969, the Music program at VIU is one of the oldest in the country, long before McGill’s music programs which started in 1981.

In what seems to be a growing trend over the last number of years, VIU is the latest school to cut its music program in a growing list of schools and institutions that have had to cut or reduce their music programs due to low enrolment, budget cuts and many other issues.

It is extremely unfortunate and  disappointing to see when post-secondary jazz programs disappear,” says Jelani Watson, JAZZ.FM91’s Education and Outreach Officer. “While they are not the only way for musicians to gain knowledge and experience in the art form they are an important means of access to knowledge, mentorship, peers and overall community for young musicians.” “Beyond that,” he says, “They provide a means for professional musicians to supplement their careers financially, while passing down the tradition that they bear the torch for to a new generation.”

If you would like to learn how you can support the next generation of musicians, consider supporting your local music programs in your town or city. You can also support Education and Outreach programs such as the one here at JAZZFM.91 where we are nurturing the next generation of jazz musicians through our Youth Big Band, our Jazzology show with Heather Bambrick on Wednesday nights interviewing post-secondary students on their music practice and our Discover Women in Jazz series.

The future of jazz is in the hands of the next generation.