UF's Summer Band Camp Canceled After Money Disagreement
Published March 2nd, 2013
GAINESVILLE - It's a summer camp that's served young musicians across Florida for more than three decades. But after the University of Florida's School of Music could not reach a deal with a third-party contractor to operate the annual UF Summer Music Camp, the decision was made to cancel it.
It's a decision that's not sitting well with some educators, including one high school band director who says this move will only hurt students in the long-run.
"I was shocked," said Buchholz High School band director Alex Kaminsky. He said he couldn't believe the news after hearing that the annual summer music camp would not be taking place this year. "It was quite successful. So when I just heard today that the camp had been cancelled, I was quite frankly stunned."
The camp is held almost every year for both middle and high school band students. Last year, organizers with the UF band program decided, for the first time in the camp's history, to contract with Smith Walbridge Clinics out of Illinois to help them run the camp. Both parties were in the process of negotiating a contract for this summer's camp when neither side could reach a deal due to a dispute over money.
"Anytime you can be exposed to university professors, is a great opportunity," said Kaminsky, who used to teach students at the camp many years ago. As the director of one of the most decorated high school band programs in the state, Kaminsky said he worries the handful of students from his band who usually attend the UF camp every year will miss out on on this learning experience. "It was because of some of those interactions that several of my students are currently at the University of Florida," said Kaminsky.
He says the lack of any summer music program could potentially hurt UF's band recruitment efforts in the future, something the current UF band director says is a potential effect of this decision. "It's a devastating blow to us, to not have any summer outreach, or any summer program, in music, and especially in band," said David Waybright, director of bands for UF's School of Music.
Because neither side could reach a deal, Kaminsky says in the end, it's the students who will be missing out. "It sounds like perhaps we lost sight of those that we serve, which are these children, and the students that benefit from the experience. And that's quite frankly, sad and disappointing to me as an educator," said Kaminsky.
Gary Smith, the owner of Smith Walbridge, says he submitted his contract for this year's band program late last year. Smith says he was contacted by officials from the UF School of Music just a few weeks ago, asking him to share 20 percent of his profits at the end of the band camp, something Smith says he would not agree to. He said that condition was not in place when his company ran UF's camp last summer.
A spokesman for the UF College of Fine Arts, which oversees the School of Music, said it's typical for the University to ask for a fee anytime a private contractor wants to use the university's space for an event, something called a 'space usage agreement.'
At this time, there is no word on whether the camp will return next year.
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