Anderson University unveils South Carolina School of the Arts
Announcement comes during annual President’s Gala
Before a packed house at the annual President’s Gala, which showcased the best of Anderson University’s performing arts on April 19, AU President Dr. Evans Whitaker and two-time Grammy award winner Johnny Mann announced the creation of the South Carolina School of the Arts to thunderous applause.
“As the University has experienced its remarkable upward trajectory over the past decade, so has the quality of the work our students have done in the visual and performing arts,” said Dr. Whitaker. “With an increased emphasis on developing the extraordinary professional abilities of our students, we envision the creation of this inspiring new framework and name of our arts division will further strengthen our reputation and substance as a place where some of the most talented artists and performers will gather to study and perform. It is a natural outgrowth of the incredible work done by the faculty and students in the division that beginning today is formerly the College of Visual and Performing Arts. We believe that South Carolina students and talented students from all over will benefit from the opportunity to study and perform with our accomplished faculty and talented students in one of the nation’s outstanding comprehensive universities.”
Mann, who has spent his life as a professional musician, composer, conductor, and leader of the Grammy award-winning Johnny Mann Singers said, “My wife, Betty and I, relocated to Anderson from California a few years ago. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very talented musical artists over my career, and I have to tell you that Anderson University has one of the finest schools of the arts anywhere. We fell in love with AU shortly after we moved here, and the creation of the South Carolina School of the Arts is one of the most exciting things among many that we have seen happen at AU over the last few years. They are doing a great job, and they’ll do an even greater job of preparing professional artists with this new name for the arts division.”
Among other notable accomplishments, Mann recorded and released approximately three-dozen albums, was the musical director for the Joey Bishop Show, hosted the TV show Stand Up and Cheer, and was choral director for the NBC Comedy Hour. In 1967, Mann’s version of the song "Up Up and Away," rose to number 6 on the pop music chart in the United Kingdom. He remains active in the music business today.
Initially, the South Carolina School of the Arts will be housed in the facilities of the Rainey Fine Arts Center on the Anderson campus, but growth in facilities and enrollment in the program is inevitable.
With a total enrollment in excess of 320 students, the new School of the Arts offers the B.A. in Art with emphases in Graphic Design, Art Education, Ceramics and Painting and Drawing. The Music department offers B.M. degrees in Vocal, Instrumental and Keyboard Performance, as well as Worship Leadership and Commercial Music. Rounding out the music program is the B.A. in Music and the successful B.M.E. degrees in Choral and Instrumental Music. The Theatre department offers a B.A. in Acting/Directing, Dance, Design/Technology, as well as a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre.
According to Dr. Jo Carol Mitchell-Rogers, chair of the art and design department, “the name is symbolic of the caliber of artistic work that is produced here at Anderson. The arts are a celebrated and valued part of our growing community.” In the last five years, Graphic Design at AU has emerged as the dominant regional program, with students winning numerous Gold ADDY awards at the national level. The Graphic Design program is characterized by successful internships and career placements. Driven by a problem-solving freshmen Foundations program, AU’s 160 Art students weave creativity and technical skill into their individual concentration.
Music chair, Dr. David Perry, underscores the compelling vision behind the new designation for the South Carolina School of the Arts. With a new curriculum in Commercial Music, and a robust keyboard program, the Music Department is aggressively expanding its influence on the future of Music. The Worship Leadership program is unique in its focus on strong musical fundamentals and flexible application. The Music Education program recently expanded to include a Masters of Music in Music Education degree.
Dr. Deborah McEniry, chair of the Theatre Department notes that “the curriculum and faculty are in place for a dynamic and stellar academic and production oriented Theatre Program.” Building on the strength of the current faculty, the Theatre Department will launch a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre in the fall of 2013. The critically acclaimed production of Barnum was invited to perform at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Regional Festival in February of 2013. Graduates are working as actors and technicians and as M.F.A. students at premiere universities.
According to Dr. David Larson, dean of the new school, “the South Carolina School of the Arts believes that intense, transformative mentorship inspires this generation of artists to develop their creative talents to their fullest potential. We also coach students to identify and value how their skills can be applied in the career they envision as well as in related fields. Professors—from Hollywood recording musicians to sought-after art directors—represent the highest level of artistic achievement, and they want to show students how they can get there too.”
The South Carolina School of the Arts trains professional visual, musical and theatrical artists who are serious about both their art and Christian faith. Staffed by highly trained and world-class artists, musicians, actors, dancers, theatrical designers, and scholars, we mentor students to develop their artistry to its fullest potential so they may thrive professionally and serve others through the arts.