Women’s Glee Club faces low funding despite high student participation

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Photo courtesy of @uiucwgc Instagram

The Women’s Glee Club sing together for the first time since the pandemic started in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Aug. 13. The group is the largest choir in the University, but receive a lack of funding.

By Cecilia Milmoe, Assistant Features Editor

The Women’s Glee Club is the largest choir at the University. Despite this, since the choir is funded solely through donations, many opportunities are sacrificed.

Andrea Solya, director of the Women’s Glee Club, said that because donation funding is low, the choir cannot travel as much as it otherwise would be able to.

“I would like to take the choir to conferences and on trips, and I would like us to go and spread Illinois spirit across the country,” Solya said. “But we just can’t afford it looking at our own funding without asking for more money.”

Choirs at the University do not receive funding from the University. While the Women’s Glee Club is the largest choir at the University, the Men’s Glee Club receives more money through donations, giving them more opportunities to compete and perform.

Solya compared the discrepancy in donations to men’s and women’s sports teams.

“You have to pay to get into a men’s basketball game, and it’s always full,” Solya said. “Women’s basketball games are just less popular. I think that’s the situation here.”

Solya explained that the University is not discriminating against the Women’s Glee Club, and despite the discrepancy in donations, the choirs have a good relationship.

Anna Roberts, senior in FAA and vice-president of the Women’s Glee Club, echoed Solya’s sentiment about the donation discrepancy.

“Money always makes things easier, but part of the arts and being a majorly female-run RSO and musical group, you get what you get,” Roberts said.

Lauren Dubravec, senior in LAS and member of the club, said the choir could always benefit from more money.

“I mean, more money is always going to make things easier,” Dubravec said. “That’s just the kind of reality we live in. We currently just have to fundraise and scrape for a lot of things.”

From March 31 to April 7, the Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs participated in the first “Glee Week,” a competition that decided which choir could raise the most money in donations.

“We just ran our first Glee Week, which we won,” Solya said. “We ran it as a competition between the Men’s and the Women’s Glee Clubs, and we won pretty big. We raised nearly $10,000.”

Roberts said that any money from donations helps the choir continue to function.

“We use any money that we have for music rights, buying folders, attire, traveling, going on tours and hosting full choir retreats where we learn music and bond,” Roberts said.

Roberts also said that more money would let the choir go on tour to more places and would allow the choir to perform in more high schools around the country.

Solya said that donations are important for commissioning pieces for the choir to perform. She explained that while the Men’s Glee Club has the budget to commission music almost every year, the Women’s Glee Club has only commissioned a single piece in the past decade.

Solya also said while this issue has always existed, it has gotten worse with time.

“It has been an issue always and it’s becoming a bigger issue because we are bigger now,” Solya said. “We are also getting more and more invitations to go to festivals and to sing in different places. We need a bus, and we need food for our singers, so it’s harder for us to say ‘yes’ to those invitations.”

Regardless of the low funding from donations, Dubravec said the Women’s Glee Club has been a positive and welcoming space throughout her years at the University.

“It’s been a really important part of my college experience,” Dubravec said. “It’s really positive to be able to spend part of your week singing or doing music in any capacity, and the Women’s Glee Club was a way for me to do that without majoring in music.”

Roberts echoed this sentiment, saying the choir has been a safe space for her.

“Women’s Glee Club has been my safe space for the last four years,” Roberts said. “My (choir) friends are so supportive, and the space is so safe and loving and respectful.”

While the Women’s Glee Club has to make do without much money, Solya said that the choir still manages to succeed.

“We are pretty successful, and we make it work with the very little we have,” Solya said. “And I bet that’s something that other organizations that work with lots of women can say.”

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