The Boston University Tanglewood Institute, a summer youth satellite program run by the College of Fine Arts, has been granted a three-year reprieve after much deliberation by BU officials.
BU Provost Jean Morrison said BUTI has been operating at a loss for the last several years. Officials have decided to keep the program based on findings an advisory committee that was appointed in October to assess the value of the program.
“We have to make decisions about our scarce resources,” Morrison said. “Given that it is a program that does not serve enrolled undergraduates or graduates at BU, it’s only prudent that we ask ourselves why we are under riding the costs of a program that does not directly serve BU students. So we made an assessment of all the factors around BUTI, and we recognized the value and quality of the program.”
BUTI, located in Lenox, is a summer program that has provided training enrichment to young musicians since 1967, said Richard Cornell, director ad interim at the BU School of Music.
“There is no comparable program in the country for this age level, high school, and BUTI is widely known and respected in the classical music world,” Cornell said. “Students at BUTI may be considering professional training at the college or conservatory level, and the summer at BUTI often helps them decide if they should attend a liberal arts program or try to earn a professional degree, or even both.”
One of the most significant things about BUTI is that it gives gifted high school students access to world-class resources, Cornell said.
“BUTI maintains a close association with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, many of whom are on the faculty of the Boston University School of Music,” he said. “Those connections enhance the program by providing students access to working professionals, teachers, coaches for chamber music, as well as many of the rehearsals and programs on the Tanglewood grounds.”
Morrison said the next three years could be a window of opportunity for the CFA administration to transform BUTI and make it more sustainable from a financial standpoint.
“We can’t continue to run the program at the kind of significant financial deficit that it has been running at,” Morrison said. “The three years is a time frame that gives the leadership of the School of Music, and it’s an effort that will be lead by the dean of CFA to give them some time to see whether they can create a structure that allows the program to be financially viable.”
CFA Dean Benjamín Juárez said the three-year timeframe is sufficient time to address many of the operational problems BUTI faces and will be an opportunity to align the mission of BUTI further with the missions of the School of Music, CFA and BU.
“We have already begun implementing the items outlined in my response to the committee’s report and look forward to continuing to make progress with the School of Music full engagement as we work toward creating a sustainable future for BUTI,” Juárez said. “There are some immediate changes that are taking place now, such as the search for a full time executive director for BUTI.”
Although the program still requires alterations to its curriculum, the future of BUTI looks positive, Cornell said.
“The committee’s objective analysis of BUTI’s position and its conclusions and recommendations do provide the outline of a future course,” he said. “From its report, along with the experience of BUTI’s own leadership, we can develop a strategic plan.”
Juárez said they have already begun to implement many of the changes outlined in his response to the advisory committee’s report.
“BUTI is an extraordinary program, but like so many arts programs, it has its complexities and challenges,” Juárez said. “… The recommendations made by the committee make enormous sense and reflect the committee’s careful evaluation of every facet of the program.”