Are American MFAs a Ponzi Scheme or just ten times better than Canadian MFAs?
Mike Daisey’s visit to Canada was overshadowed by that of another charismatic Yankee who rose to success through a combination of excellent public speaking skills, fully harnessing the potential of the internet, and the notion that a broken system requires change. So it goes.
The basic premise of Daisey’s argument is thus: A system that encourages artists to incur $100,000 + debt while the average wage of graduates hovers somewhere below the poverty line, is a corrupt one that will eventually collapse under the weight of its inability to provide a return for its investors.
This scheme implicates academia, a large swath of artistic institutions, and of course American Theatre Magazine
, whom in a matter of months it seems Daisey has singlehandedly de-legitimized as voice genuinely representing the interest of American artists through a critique of its role promoting and benefiting from deeply flawed institutional and educational models.
If it costs roughly $40,000 a year to go to New York University, and $4000 to go to York University, is NYU ten times “better” than York? What added value does your extra $36,000 a year buy you?
Although there are a number of excellent undergraduate or certificate conservatory programs, there are actually very few MFA theatre programs in Canada period. What’s up with that? Are MFAs necessary at all – or do we not have enough? Two thirds of the cast of our recent production of Stranger
(and the producer) trained in the US after completing an undergrad degree in Canada…