University of North Carolina School of the Arts: Wikis


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University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Established 1963
Type Public
Endowment $27.7 million
Chancellor John Mauceri
Faculty 186
Students 1,144
Undergraduates 739
Postgraduates 124
Other students 276 (high school)
5 (special)
Location Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States
Campus Urban
Former names North Carolina School of the Arts (1963-2008)
Colors Process blue     
Affiliations University of North Carolina
University of North Carolina School of the Arts logo.png

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (formerly the North Carolina School of the Arts), is a public coeducational arts conservatory in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that grants high school, undergraduate and graduate degrees. It is one of the seventeen constituent campuses of the University of North Carolina system. It was founded in 1963 as a conservatory of the performing arts by then-North Carolina governor Terry Sanford and was the first public arts conservatory. The school owns and operates the Stevens Center in Downtown Winston-Salem and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


About the school


Professional schools

There are five professional schools of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts:

  • School of Dance
  • School of Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program)
  • School of Drama
  • School of Filmmaking
  • School of Music

General information

The School’s mission is to train students from middle school through graduate school for professional careers in the performing, visual, and film and television arts. Performance is an integral part of the training program, and students, faculty and guest artists present more than 400 public performances and screenings annually in the School’s facilities in Winston-Salem, as well as across the state and the Southeast, in major U.S. cities and overseas.

Five professional schools make up the University of North Carolina School of the Arts: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. With its full academic program, the School is accredited to award the high school diploma, the College Arts Diploma, the Professional Artist Certificate, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Students must audition or interview for admission to UNCSA. UNCSA is said to be one of the most exclusive arts conservatories in the world. Of the more than 1,000 students enrolled, half come from two-thirds of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Half come from 45 other states (from New York to California) and nearly two dozen foreign countries (from Germany to Japan).

Students study with resident master teachers who have had successful careers in the arts, such as the New York City Ballet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and who remain active in their professions. Noted guest artists such as filmmaker Spike Lee and actor Mandy Patinkin bring lessons directly from the contemporary arts world. The BFA Acting program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is internationally one of the toughest programs to get into, accepting approximately 28 actors a year, including no more than 10 female actors.


Although UNCSA has no officially-sanctioned athletic teams, students are very proud of their mascot: The Fighting Pickle. The premiere athletic event from the early 1970s was an annual touch-football game between an NCSA team versus one from a Wake Forest University fraternity.

The question of "How The Pickles got their name" has come up with the passage of time since 1972 when the football team first took to the field as "The NCSA Pickles". The answer is very simple: a contest was held to name the football team. The winning entry was submitted jointly by three undergraduates. In 1972 it was simply "The Pickles", along with a slogan, "Sling 'em by their warts!". Eventually they became "The Fighting Pickles". This account of how the Pickles got their name is corroborated by large numbers of those who were at the school at that time.

The Pickles are further reflected in the name of the Student Union's cafe, "The Pickle Jar".

Beaux Arts

The end of the year at UNCSA is capped with a giant all-school party known as Beaux Arts, where the biggest attraction is the Beaux Arts Ball. Originally Beaux Arts was founded as a sort of rebel party run by the students, and the ball was actually a costume ball.[1] The festival was started in 1972 and included a large statue of a cow that was "borrowed" from a local business and became the symbol of the festival. Eventually the festival became a school-run event.



The idea of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts was initiated in 1962 by Vittorio Giannini, the School's founder and first President, a leading American Composer and teacher of Composition at Juilliard, Curtis and Manhattan, who approached then governor Terry Sanford and enlisting help from John Ehle to support his dream of a school of the arts. Through Giannini's vision the NCSA was created. Later the North Carolina Conservatory Committee investigated the possibility of opening a state-supported music conservatory. A resolution dated December 3, 1966 by the Board of Trustee of the NCSA and the Governor pays tribute to Giannini as "the founder of the School noting that "When it was a dream, he sought a home for it and elped bring it into being. When it was an infant institution, he gave it structure and design." Importantly, Giannini left a legacy of arts education that continues to serves as a model. He established that the School's President must be a noted composer.[2] When the school was founded, the focus was broadened to include dance and drama, and the Enabling Act of the school, passed in 1963 by the North Carolina General Assembly, founded a school for "the professional training, as distinguished from the liberal arts instruction, of talented students in the fields of music, drama, the dance and allied performing arts, at both the high school and college levels of instruction, with emphasis placed upon performance of the arts, and not upon academic studies of the arts." The North Carolina General Assembly also gave the new school $350,000. The Gray High School was bought to house the new conservatory and Vittorio Giannini, an American composer, was picked as the first president of the school (the title would later be changed to chancellor).


Composer Robert Ward became UNCSA's second president following the unexpected death of Giannini in 1966. In 1968 the School of Design and Production (informally known as D&P) was created, and in 1970 a subsection of the D&P program, the visual arts program, was created as well. In addition, the school became a part of the newly formed University of North Carolina system in 1972. In 1974 Robert Suderburg became UNCSA's third chancellor. During his time at UNCSA the Workplace building, containing the Semans Library, was opened on the UNCSA campus, as well as the Stevens Center, previously the Carolina Theatre, in downtown Winston-Salem. The gala opening featured the UNCSA symphony orchestra, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, with Isaac Stern as soloist and Gregory Peck as the Master of Ceremonies. Attendees included Agnes de Mille, Cliff Robertson, Governor James Hunt, President and Mrs. Gerald Ford and Lady Bird Johnson. The Stevens Center remains UNCSA's largest performance facility and is booked with either performances or rehearsals all but 80 nights of the year.[3]

Dr. Jane E. Milley was the fourth chancellor of UNCSA and was installed in 1984. Although she increased faculty salaries and secured funding for a new facility dubbed Performance Place she was forced out of the school by students who found her too academic.

Alex Ewing was appointed as the fifth chancellor of UNCSA in 1990. His biggest accomplishment was the establishment of UNCSA's fifth arts school, the School of Film. He also helped bring the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts to the School and increased the endowment from $4 million to $15 million.

Wade Hobgood was UNCSA's sixth chancellor, starting in 2000. He helped UNCSA secure five new buildings, a Center for Design Innovation and free tuition for all North Carolina high school residents in his five years tenure.

Present and future

John Mauceri is UNCSA's seventh and current chancellor.[4] He was installed on July 1, 2006 and maintains an active performance career in addition to his duties as chancellor and has encouraged the teachers and deans to do so. As of 2008, he had appointed two new deans, Ethan Stiefel as the Dean of Dance and Jordan Kerner as the Dean of Film, and will shortly appoint a new Dean of Music as well.[5][6]

On April 9, 2008, the UNCSA Board of Trustees voted unanimously to support a name change of the school from the North Carolina School of the Arts to the "University of North Carolina School of the Arts." The reasons given for the change were to raise the profile of the school as part of the University of North Carolina system.[7] The name change was approved by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors on May 9, 2008, the North Carolina Senate on June 24, 2008, and the North Carolina House of Representatives on July 11, 2008. The law was signed into law by Governor Mike Easley and took effect in August 2008.[8][9] A group of alumni have attempted to register "UNCSA" as a federal trademark to block the change.[10]


The façade of Watson Hall

The school's campus consists of 77 acres (310,000 m2) in Winston-Salem, near Old Salem.[11] The school has eight residence halls – six for college students, two for high school students, an on-campus student apartment complex and an off-campus student apartment complex within walking distance. The school has eleven performance and screening spaces; ACE Theatre with the Main Theatre, Babcock Theatre, and Gold Theatre, Crawford Recital Hall (with a Fisk Organ), deMille Theatre, Hood Recital Hall, Performance Place with Proscenium Thrust, Catawba Theatre, and Patrons Theatre, the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem, and Watson Chamber Music Hall. Performance Place is the home of the drama department, the ACE Theatre is the home of the filmmaking department, deMille theatre is the home of the dance department and Watson, Hood and Crawford halls are used by the music department. The Stevens Center is shared.

The school also has a fitness center with an interior basketball court and swimming pool, the Semans Library, the Hanes Student Commons, Workplace (adjacent to the library) which holds Visual Arts Studios as well as Offices and Studios for the School of Dance, Gray Building, which holds high school academics on the third floor and music offices and practice rooms on the first and second floors, a building holding two dance studios, a visual arts sculpting studio, a large design and production complex, a wig and makeup studio, a welcome center, and several buildings for administrative offices and college academics. A new library is in the planning stages.

Performance opportunities

UNCSA offers many performance opportunities throughout the course of a school year. Dance students have three seasonal performances: Fall dance, Winter dance, and Spring dance. They also perform the Nutcracker every Christmas, and have many other minor performances throughout the school year. Music students have the chance to perform in front of their peers every Wednesday at performance hour, and students are usually in a large ensemble, such as jazz band, orchestra, opera, or wind ensemble. These ensembles each perform several times a year.

The School of Design and Production is responsible for the scenery, costumes, lighting, sound, and stage management for all shows produced by the School of Drama, two operas that UNCSA produces each year through the Fletcher Opera Institute, as well as dance performances, although dance costumes are provided by the School of Dance's own professional costume shop.

Last but not least, the Filmmaking school is host to the ACE Exhibition Complex, where students can display their work and watch others. This complex, along with the Stevens Center, is host to the RiverRun International Film Festival every spring.

Summer Performance Festival

Presenting over sixty free shows annually on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Summer Performance Festival, funded by the state, is produced, performed and directed by students, alumni, faculty and staff. The festival offers drama, music, dance and film performances for six consecutive weeks, late June to early August, at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, North Carolina. Since its inception in 1997, the summer festival has become an important cultural resource to residents and visitors of North Carolina and an enriching educational and training experience for emerging and professional artists of UNCSA. In 2007, the festival audience grew to a record attendance of over 11,000.

All school musicals

Once a decade, UNCSA produces an all school musical- a massive, extensive, Broadway style production involving all five arts schools of the conservatory. All students have the opportunity to audition. Past all-school musicals have included Brigadoon, Oklahoma!, Kiss Me Kate, and Canterbury Tales,[12] with the most recent one being Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (for the 50th anniversary). The purpose of the all-school musicals are not only to provide the students with a professional experience, but also to raise money and awareness for the school. For example, for West Side Story the lead roles and Chancellor John Mauceri traveled to New York to promote the school and the school's revival of the musical.[13] West Side Story was performed at UNCSA's Stevens Center from May 3-13, 2007, and then went on tour to Chicago's Ravinia Festival[14] on June 8, 2007. The production was directed by Dean of Drama Gerald Freedman, the assistant director of the original production, and conducted by UNCSA Chancellor and world renown conductor John Mauceri. It has also been reported that Arthur Laurents changed portions of the dialogue for the UNCSA production.[13]

Summer session

UNCSA offers five week summer courses in dance, filmmaking, visual arts, and drama, as well as two week courses in voice, guitar, and percussion, and a three week course in stage combat, to middle school, high school, and college students seeking intensive study in the arts. All summer programs are highly reputable, and a great introduction to an art form for some, and an opportunity to delve into a discipline for others.

Notable alumni

Student organizations

UNCSA has many active student organizations, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Pride (UNCSA's Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender support organization)
  • NCSA Democrats
  • the Kudzu Gazette (School Newspaper)
  • UNCSA Student Government Association
  • United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Student Chapter


  1. ^ "No Beer at Beaux Arts?". The Kudzu Gazette. Retrieved 2008-06-30.  
  2. ^ web|url=|title=UNCSA Library: Archives History|publisher=University of North Carolina School of the Arts|accessdate=2008-06-30}}
  3. ^ "Having survived early missteps, today's Stevens Center thrives 25 Entertaining Years". The Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2008-06-30.  
  4. ^ " Chancellor Home Page". University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Retrieved 2008-06-30.  
  5. ^ "Chancellor Mauceri Introduces New Deans at Convocation". The Kudzu Gazette. Retrieved 2008-06-30.  
  6. ^ "UNCSA Music Dean Thomas Clark to Step Down". The Kudzu Gazette. Retrieved 2008-06-30.  
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about the proposed name change: NCSA to UNCSA". University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Retrieved 2008-06-26.  
  8. ^ "May 9, 2008, Board of Governors Meeting Minutes" (PDF). University of North Carolina Board of Governors. pp. 6–7.,_2008_Open_Minutes.pdf. Retrieved 2008-06-26.  
  9. ^ "June 25, 2008, at the North Carolina General Assembly". The Associated Press. 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-06-26.  
  10. ^ Keuffel, Ken (2008-06-16). "Alumni try to trademark 'UNCSA'". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2008-06-26.  
  11. ^ "Visitor's Center: Fact Sheet". University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Retrieved 2008-06-30.  
  12. ^ "50th Anniversary West Side Story Coming to NCSA and Ravina". Retrieved 2007-03-06.  
  13. ^ a b "West Side Story Visits New York City". The Kudzu Gazette. Retrieved 2007-03-12.  
  14. ^ "North Carolina School of the Arts Presents New Production To Celebrate 50th Anniversary of West Side Story". The North Carolina School of the Arts. Retrieved 2007-03-06.  

External links

Coordinates: 36°04′32″N 80°14′11″W / 36.0755°N 80.2364°W / 36.0755; -80.2364


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