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UNCSA History

Facts and information about the history of the UNCSA campus and programs.

Timeline of Significant Events in UNCSA History

1963 June 21: N.C. General Assembly passes bill establishing the North Carolina School of the Arts, with a $325,000 appropriation. The original school offered concentrations in Music, Drama, and Dance, as well as courses in Liberal Arts.
1964 April 28-29: Advisory Board of Artists selects Winston-Salem as the site for NCSA, where more than 5,000 people have pledged more than $850,000 in a two-day telephone drive, Dial for Dollars. Board nominates Vittorio Giannini as the school's first President.
1965 September 7: High School classes begin.
  September 21: College classes begin.
1966 December 10-11: NCSA School of Dance gives its first performances of The Nutcracker ballet to a full house in Reynolds Auditorium. Choreographed by Sonja Tyven, Robert Lindgren, and Duncan Noble, based on original choreography by Lev Ivanov. Sets borrowed from the National Ballet in Washington, D.C., with original costumes designed by Christina Giannini.
1967 July 9: The International Music Program, a collaborative effort between NCSA and the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, begins in Siena, Italy, and runs for more than 30 years.
  December: New sets designed by Christina Giannini debut for The Nutcracker ballet.
1968 September: The School of Design and Production created as a separate department from the School of Drama.
1969 July 13-September 1: First summer session for Dance students conducted in Asolo, Italy; beginning of the International Dance Program.
1970 September: NCSA inaugurates the High School Visual Arts program.
  October 22: World premiere of Agnes de Mille's ballet A Rose for Miss Emily performed at NCSA.
1972 Fall: The Pickles selected as the school's mascot. Read more about how the Pickles got their name.
1973 March 1: NCSA’s main auditorium named in honor of the first president of the NCSA Foundation, Robert Baker ("R. B.") Crawford, Jr.
1977 The NCSA Associates are established as a volunteer organization to support the mission of the school.
1978 April 27: Semans Library dedicated in honor of Dr. James H. Semans, and his wife, Mrs. Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, who helped lead the establishment of NCSA.
  December: New sets for The Nutcracker designed by Mark Pirolo.
1982 March 26: First NCSA graduate program in Design and Production approved by UNC Board of Governors.
1983 April 22-24: Gala performances celebrate opening of the Stevens Center, named for Roger L. Stevens. Gregory Peck serves as master of ceremonies; Leonard Bernstein, conductor; Isaac Stern, soloist. Performers include Jean Stapleton, Zoe Caldwell, Mel A. Tomlinson, and Heather Watts. Also participating in tribute are Agnes de Mille, Sir Anton Dolin, Cliff Robertson, Oliver Smith, Gov. James Hunt, President and Mrs. Gerald Ford, and Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson.
1987 April 11: NCSA’s first Founder’s Day celebration honors 55 founders of the School.
1988 May 8: Dame Margot Fonteyn arrives at NCSA for week-long residency as first recipient of the Lucia Chase Endowed Fellowship for Dance, established by Alex Ewing in memory of his mother, Lucia Chase.
1989 Fall semester: NCSA enrolls first students in Master of Music Program.
1991 June: Jean Licker Firstenberg, director of American Film Institute, named Chair of the Board of Advisors of the proposed School of Filmmaking at NCSA.
1992 January 27: The William R. Kenan Jr. Fund for the Arts establishes the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at NCSA.
1993 September 16: School of Filmmaking opens as fifth arts school at NCSA. Approximately 60 students register for classes in the new school.
1996 May 2-12: NCSA celebrates its 30th anniversary with an all-school production of Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon.
1998 April 16-19: Dedication ceremonies celebrate School of Filmmaking’s new “Studio Village.” Filmmakers-in-residence include Elmer Bernstein, Donn Cambern, Dino and Martha DeLaurentiis, Elliott Kastner, Ted Tally, and Robert Wise. Speakers include Motion Picture Association Chairman Jack Valenti. Filmmaker Robert Wise and PBS journalist Charlie Rose also attend.
  Summer: New performing arts series, Summer Scenes, inaugurated at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, N.C. Six-week festival includes music and dance performances and will add drama the following summer. More than 150 students, faculty and alumni participate.
  December: New Nutcracker sets, costumes and lighting designed by NCSA alumni Campbell Baird and John McKernon. Ballet’s first new sets in 20 years, and first new costumes since those designed by Christina Giannini for its Winston-Salem debut in 1966.
1999 July 10-24: “Shakespeare Lives!” begins as a collaborative project of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, in partnership with the NCSA School of Drama and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Educators from Forsyth and Catawba counties selected to participate in inaugural program.
2000 September 8: UNC President Molly Broad announces a gift of $10 million from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation of Raleigh to establish and endow the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at NCSA.
  November 9-12: The School of Filmmaking, in collaboration with the Kenan Institute for the Arts, hosts "Cinethics: A National Conference on Ethics in Filmmaking," drawing faculty and students from 17 film schools across the country. Panelists include Armyan Bernstein, producer of Air Force One; Sarah Pillsbury, producer of Desperately Seeking Susan; film critic Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times; and U.S. Senator Fred Thompson.
2002 June: Kenan Institute for the Arts hosts the first national assembly of conservatory leaders, “Preparing Performing Artists for the 21st Century.”
  October: School of Filmmaking Dean Dale Pollock announces the RiverRun International Film Festival will move from Brevard and Asheville to Winston-Salem in April, 2003. Projection and sound equipment will be installed in the Stevens Center to restore it as a working movie theater. Films on Fourth Series also begins in collaboration with the Winston-Salem Cinema Society.
2003 September 25: Charlotte and Philip Hanes Student Commons and Daniels Plaza dedicated.
  October 25: School of Music Complex including Bill and Judy Watson Hall Chamber Music Hall dedicated.
2004 September: Graduate program (MFA) in Performing Arts Management begins in School of Design and Production, and is one of only 35 such programs in the country.
2005 December: NCSA partners with Winston-Salem State University to support the UNC Board Governors' establishment of the Center for Design Innovation (CDI). Forsyth Technical Community College is another member of the consortium and will become CDI's neighbor in the Piedmont Triad Research Park. CDI promotes interdisciplinary creativity and the development and use of digital technologies to foster collaborative research, education and commerce.
2007 April: The UNCSA Board of Trustees votes to establish seven honorary trustee positions to represent the areas of Dance, Design and Production, Drama, Film, Music, High School Academic Program, as well as Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Programs.
  May 3-13: West Side Story opening, symposium and gala celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the original Broadway production. Chancellor Mauceri and Drama Dean Gerald Freedman lead the world premiere production and travel with it for one performance at the Chicago Ravinia Festival on June 8.
2008 August 1: Proposal to change the name of North Carolina School of the Arts to University of North Carolina School of the Arts approved by the N.C. General Assembly (Senate Bill 2015, Senate approval June 24 and House approval July 9). The bill was signed into law by Governor Mike Easley on August 8, 2008.
  November 13: First Winston-Salem Light Project, in which UNCSA Students light historic Millennium Building in artist-inspired vignettes.
2009 December: New scenic elements for The Nutcracker designed by Howard Jones.
2011 April 28-29: UNCSA presents an all-school production of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! A special gala performance is given on April 29th with proceeds from the production and Gala to benefit all five arts schools.
  Summer: American Ballet Theatre and UNCSA announce plans for a five-year partnership, starting fall 2011, which will implement ABT’s National Training Curriculum throughout the UNCSA School of Dance preparatory, high school, and college divisions. This will make UNCSA’s campus a second home for ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School by becoming an exclusive affiliate school.
2012 November 15: UNCSA names Proscenium Thrust Theatre for Gerald Freedman, Dean Emeritus of School of Drama.
2013 December 8: UNCSA announces $500,000 endowed professorship for visiting artists. The endowment is named for James Allbritten, artistic director of A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute.
2014 January 30: UNCSA wins Emmy Award at the 28th Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards Ceremony for its UNC-TV 2012 production of Much Ado About Nothing
2015 February: The NCSA School of Music creates the Chrysalis Chamber Music Institute, featuring two annual residencies by the renowned Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
  April: 50th anniversary of UNCSA celebrated over a two year period, ending with a gala production celebrating the 50th anniversary of Guys and Dolls.
  April 15: UNCSA announces new Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking to begin in fall 2016.
  April 30: UNCSA holds inaugural “Collage” Concert, an all-student showcase, featuring large and chamber ensembles as well as solo performances. Afterward, Chancellor Birman hosts “Next Now,” UNCSA’s annual benefit for student scholarships.
  September 24: UNCSA’s new 75,731 sq. ft. Library building formally opens. The Music Library is posthumously dedicated to Benjamin F. Ward, former UNCSA Trustee, musician, and Professor of Philosophy at Duke University.
  October 31: The School of Design and Production spends Halloween at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave lighting the South Portico of the White House.
2016 Summer: A $5 million dollar pledge is received from Chancellor Emeritus Alex Ewing. In recognition, the largest performance venue on campus is renamed the Alex Ewing Performance Place. Ewing presents the School with $1 million for scholarships in each of the five conservatories in honor of his late wife, Sheila Cobb Ewing.
  Fall: Two new MFA programs in the School of Filmmaking in Screenwriting and Creative Producing open for graduate studies.
  October: A major gift of art is installed in the Library, the result of a bequest from the estate of Clyde M. Fowler Jr., longtime director of UNCSA’s Visual Arts Program. The installation includes works by Robert Motherwell, Willem DeKooning, Julian Schnabel, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol.
  October 31: Design and Production students create a Halloween experience at the White House for the annual party for children of military-affiliated families. The production consists of vignettes derived from children’s storybook motifs.
  December: UNCSA announces an anonymous gift of $10 million to be used to establish the Institute for Performance Innovation, a joint educational venture between the Schools of Design and Production and Filmmaking.
2017 February: UNCSA launches Choreographic Institute in the School of Dance in the summer of 2017 to foster the development of new work by established and emerging choreographers including Helen Pickett, Ethan Stiefel and Susan Jaffe.
2019 September: UNCSA launches the public phase of its first comprehensive fundraising campaign, Powering Creativity.
2021 July: UNCSA partners with The Posse Foundation as a member of Posse Arts, an initiative to recruit, train and support talented students from underrepresented communities. The first six Arts Posse Scholars begin their studies at UNCSA in fall 2022.
2023 February: Dr. B. Afeni McNeely Cobham is appointed the first Associate Vice Chancellor and Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at UNCSA.