5CDC funding issues restrict dancers, program

By Rachel Hennessey ‘13Staff Writer

In an interview last Sunday, Taryn Ohashi (SCR ‘13) opened up about her dissatisfaction with dance funding at the Claremont Colleges. Ohashi, a lifelong dancer, has been on the 5 College Dance Company (5CDC) since her freshman year, and has held the title of Director for the past two. While Taryn acknowledges that the dance company’s funding situation has improved over the past four years, she still sees a lot of room for improvement. As the name implies, the 5CDC is open to students from all campuses. Because all five schools are represented, you’d think that funding wouldn’t be such a challenge with five, as opposed to just two (PP) or three (CMS) schools giving their support. Unfortunately for Ohashi and her team members, this isn’t the case.

The company consists of fifteen women, all of whom must be able to cover the costs of performance attire. “It’s sad, but I’ve seen girls try out who can’t be on the team because they can’t afford to buy their own shoes or costumes,” Ohashi explained.  Unlike other sports teams, members of the 5CDC receive no funding for their uniforms. “We’d love to make money a non-issue for all candidates, but don’t have the money to subsidize these items.”

Ohashi explained that the real funding issue is not dance outfits, but raising enough money to rent out Scripps’ Garrison Theatre twice annually for the company’s end-of-semester showcases. Garrison charges the company approximately $700 per showcase night. This equals $1,400 per year that the 5CDC needs to put on its two free performances. Each of the five colleges only grants the team an average of $200 per year, (about half of what the cheerleading team gets) according to Ohashi. Thus, in addition to their practices and performances at 5C sporting events, the women are constantly fundraising throughout the year in order to accumulate that extra $400 for Spring Showcase.

The fundraising money that the team does receive comes from the treasurers of student-elected bodies such as SAS (Scripps), ASPC (Pomona), ASCMC (Claremont Mckenna), The Student Senate (Pitzer), and ASHMC (Harvey Mudd). Depending on how the treasurers decide to allocate finances, the 5CDC could have a lucky or unlucky year. Still, Ohashi explains, even in the better years they’ve never received adequate funding to cover showcase costs without fundraising.

The 5CDC raises funds mainly by appealing to the same bodies that granted the initial money (SAS, ASPC, ASCMC, The Student Senate, and ASHMC). They are usually able to raise just about enough money to cover the difference, although some years they’ve still come up short. “This puts a lot of pressure on our team during the spring. We are constantly worried about reaching our goal so we can hold the showcase without charging for admission,” Ohashi said.  “I wish the 5C treasurers would just grant us that extra $100 in the first place, because they know every year we come asking for more in the spring.”

Scripps treasurer Evelyn Wong (‘13) explained why SAS and the other student governments are unable to give more money to the 5CDC and other clubs in need: “As student fees do not rise by much every year, we cannot give each club as much as they are applying for. If we did, the total CLORG budget would be 60% of student fees, which would cut down significantly on the other portions of the SAS budget,” Wong explained. SAS also makes sure to set aside enough money annually so that students can apply for more research or club money through the Funding Advisory Committee, one of the sources Ohashi uses in the spring to make ends meet before Showcase.

Having to allot so much time and energy towards fundraising puts extra stress on all team members and makes joining the 5CDC a pledge to commit to more than just dancing. Since CMC graduate Jaclyn D’Arcy’s creation of the dance company in 2008, all showcases have been free of admission fees, and Ohashi hopes to keep it that way, even if it means constant fundraising or resorting to out-of-pocket-money for her and her teammates.

The 5CDC provides viewers with the only free dance show on campus. Other clubs, such as the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company and REVERB do charge admission fees to help with costs. Ohashi, on the other hand, feels that her show will achieve better turnout without the fees. “We are trying to get a bigger audience and don’t want price to discourage people from coming to see art,” Ohashi said.

While Ohashi recognizes that money is limited and is thankful for the grants that her team does receive, she expressed frus- tration with how people regard dance at the Claremont Colleges. “It’s not a debate about whether dance qualifies as a sport or not. Either way, what we do – rally school spirit, while engaging in an athletic activity -- is the similar to what the soccer team, baseball team and cheerleading squad do. I don’t understand why we’re treated differently.”