University of Calgary

Departments of Music, Dance and Drama merge to form School of Creative and Performing Arts

UToday HomeJuly 12, 2013

By Heath McCoy

Music professor Allan Bell will serve as the acting director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts for its inaugural year.Music professor Allan Bell will serve as the acting director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts for its inaugural year. Photo by Riley BrandtThe University of Calgary’s performing arts community is abuzz this month with the departments of Music, Dance and Drama joining forces — along with University Theatre Services — to form the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA).

“This consolidation makes sense for many reasons,” says Faculty of Arts Dean Richard Sigurdson. “It’s a new and exciting opportunity for our creative and performing artists to become more integrated academically, while showcasing our talents to the community as a single entity.”

Music professor Allan Bell, who will serve as the acting director of the SCPA for its inaugural year, agrees. “Yes, Music, Drama and Dance have separate ways of doing things, but we also have that shared component of performance and creative engagement,” Bell says. “And, of course, we all make use of the same facilities.”

Together, the three former departments present in excess of 200 concerts and performances every year. “We are, and will continue to be, one of the major events producers in Calgary,” says Bell, a member of the Order of Canada. “The community comes here a lot. This requires co-ordination and by pooling our resources and having a central connection, we’re better able to promote our events.”

With the three former departments working together, there’s room for the performances to be broader in scope and ambition than ever before, says Bell. This will be evident in the SCPA’s production of Aesop’s Fables — a collaboration involving Dance, Drama and Music faculty and students, to be led by Drama’s Patrick Finn — which will debut in October.

Sigurdson stresses that all of the courses, programs and degrees offered by the former departments will be retained — with three separate Dance, Drama and Music divisions within the school, each run by a division chair. But now the doors are opened to establish multi-disciplined degrees and research opportunities in the future. This will create a greater rounded academic experience for students of the creative and performing arts.

The creation of a new school also comes with much “distinction and cache in the community,” notes Sigurdson. “It’s going to provide us, we hope, with better opportunities to fundraise.”

“This is key,” Bell adds. “The sciences and social sciences have their research councils, but the arts advance in almost direct proportion to patronage.

“The kind of person who might find fund a school like ours would be someone looking for a longtime legacy. That’s what this affords.”

In the next year, the SCPA will begin an international recruitment search for a permanent director.

The future for the school is bright says Sigurdson, with incredible opportunities and innovations on the horizon.

“This consolidation doesn’t mean cuts,” he says. “It means the creation of so many exciting new possibilities.”


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