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University of North Carolina School of the Arts College Portrait

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The University of North Carolina School of the Arts celebrated its 50th anniversary as America’s first public arts conservatory in 2015. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem in 1965 after nearly $1 million was raised to win the new school for the city. In 1972, the school became part of the prestigious University of North Carolina system.

UNCSA’s mission, by legislative mandate, is to train talented students for professional careers in the arts. Five arts conservatories, or schools, comprise UNCSA: Dance, Design and Production, Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA annually trains approximately 1,250 young people of exceptional talent from high school to undergraduate, graduate and post-master’s levels. Students enter UNCSA when they are ready for focused, intense professional development, as identified by audition and portfolio review. They study with resident master teachers who are selected for their experience and expertise as professional artists. Performance is an integral part of the training program, and students, faculty and guest artists present more than 300 public performances and screenings annually. A Division of Liberal Arts and High School Academic Program provide the academic studies necessary to develop the whole artist. UNCSA is consistently ranked high in value and arts programs by such industry leaders as The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Kiplinger’s, and Money magazine.

Living in the Community

UNCSA is part of North Carolina’s cultural legacy, which includes the nation’s first state symphony and the first state art museum. Part of the school’s mission, by legislative mandate, is to serve as a cultural resource for the people of North Carolina and the American South. So it’s not surprising that UNCSA plays an integral part in the cultural life of Winston-Salem and beyond.

Faculty and alumni perform in or behind the scenes of such arts organizations as the Winston-Salem Symphony, Piedmont Opera, Triad Stage, Carolina Ballet, and Theatre in the Park. UNCSA faculty and alumni have also made numerous films in the state, and have represented the state well at film festivals such as the RiverRun International Film Festival. Home to the nation’s first arts council, the City of Winston-Salem – which is now known as the City of Arts and Innovation – offers young students a flourishing arts community, from the Downtown Arts District to Reynolda House Museum of American Art at Wake Forest University to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art.