New Sudler rules affect theater

Following an addition to the Sudler funding application guidelines this semester clarifying that productions may only apply to one college for support, some theater students have experienced increased difficulties with getting the funds.

Last year, several students were found to have misled the Council of Masters when applying for Sudler funds by applying for the grants through many different colleges, a tactic that is now explicitly forbidden in the guidelines. But some students said the minimum grant for theater productions — $1,200 — is insufficient, and getting money is made more difficult as some colleges are more restrictive about whom they give grants to.

Sudler applications now state that “By submitting a proposal the Proposer attests to the validity of the project as his or her own work and that duplicate or related proposals are not being submitted to other residential colleges.”

Jess Heyman ’07, who produced several shows with Sudler funding before the change, said that while the addition to the requirements will not affect all theater productions, it will alter some. She said the stricter limits on funding applications will make previous methods for receiving more funding impossible.

“I worked on some shows [before the change to the application] where the costumes were a large part of the production, so I would suggest that the costume director apply for a Sudler fund,” Heyman said. “It would, in a way, get around the $1,200 limit — it could make it more of an independent project.”

Heyman also said some productions, like this semester’s “Little Shop of Horrors,” are able to offset the limit on Sudler finding by asking family members and friends for additional funding. Some students who have particularly good relationships with their masters will sometimes ask for extra money off the books, she said.

But Alyssa Simmons ’09 said she does not feel as though the recent addition to the funding application has had detrimental effects in the theater community. In the past, she had been annoyed when productions received funding from more than one source, she said, as she produced her shows with money from only one college. She said she thinks most college productions do not need to spend more than $1,200.

Davenport Master Richard Schottenfeld said the single-grant policy is merely a reinforcement of a previously unspoken rule rather than a new regulation. The new clarification ensures that a production cannot exceed the maximum amount of grant money allowed for productions, he said.

Schottenfeld said he prefers to fund projects that primarily involve students from Davenport, because Sudler funds are meant to encourage arts within each individual residential college. But he said he will sometimes support campuswide productions because there are some shows that, out of necessity, include participants from many colleges.

This semester, Davenport is reviving the Davenport Dramat with a production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” The show is cast and produced entirely by Davenport students and is receiving Sudler funds.

Eyad Houssami ’07, who has directed a number of Sudler-funded shows before, said that when his producer applied to Davenport for funding, he was told that he should instead apply to Houssami’s home college, Ezra Stiles. Houssami said he was also told that his producer’s being a freshman would hurt their chances of receiving funding since upperclassmen are given priority.

“While I fully support the formalization of the Sudler fund process and I understand why they enforce the one-college system, what I think the colleges and the Council of Masters need to consider is whether students are given equal opportunities to resources,” Houssami said.

Calhoun College Master Jonathan Holloway said he does not require all participants in a Sudler project to come from the host college, but he does give priority to Calhoun students.

“I will only speak for myself on this, but I certainly am more partial to programs, events and ideas that come from within my own college community,” Holloway said in an e-mail. “I’d much rather spend my limited resources on enhancing the residential college experience for students I have come to know well and with whom I share a common bond.”

But Jonathan Edwards College Master Gary Haller said he primarily considers the strength of the proposal, as long as the proposer and the treasurer are in his college. He did say, however, that he would give more weight to a production that involves more Jonathan Edwards students if two proposals have the same merit.

The money available for Sudler funding is distributed evenly throughout the 12 residential colleges.

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