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Welcome to the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) at James Madison University, the home of entrepreneurial, creative, artistic minds! The CVPA includes the School of Art, Design and Art History, the School of Theatre and Dance, the School of Music, the Institute for Visual Studies and the Madison Art Collection. We have approximately 1,200 majors and 160 full-time faculty and staff who offer more than 400 exhibitions, performances, lectures and presentations each year. We place a high value on the arts within a liberal arts context, and are proud of our students creating “arts for the real world.” In that process, we foster the distinctive ways artists think—and leverage that thinking for unique learning experiences. JMU student artists have daily, high-impact learning opportunities with professional artists: our faculty. Consequently, our students are carefully mentored and nurtured throughout college and into their careers.

JMU student artists have professional performance and gallery spaces in which to work. Our Forbes Center for the Performing Arts houses five performance venues, specially designed for student, faculty and guest performances. Both student and professional art exhibitions rotate through a variety of galleries on campus, one of which is entirely student-run. JMU student artists have opportunities to work with all of our visiting professional artists in classroom, rehearsal and performance settings. Recent visits include celebrities Patti LuPone, Bobby McFerrin, Bruce Hornsby, Ailey II, Peter Plagens, Garrison Keillor and Jefferson Pinder. Please visit to see who is coming next! With as proud as we are of our facilities within the College, we are equally proud of our collaborations on- and off-campus.

We are members of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) and VentureWell (formerly the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators’ Association) to strengthen and showcase our interdisciplinary activities. For example, each year we have students attend the a2ru Emerging Creatives Student Conference, where they cross disciplines to work on a project together. Similarly, our design and engineering students travel each summer to the Institute of Design at Stanford and Tah.Mah.Lah in California, a home designed to be the epitome of “green building” while also utilizing modern aesthetics. JMU students are also working across campus and in our local community on projects such as exploring composition and choreography with faculty in dance and music, and bringing iPads filled with games and music to patients at our local hospital.

Through all of this activity, our students learn a variety of skills transferrable to any and all careers: critical thinking, discipline, rigor, innovation, teambuilding, creativity, empathy, self-reflection, and citizenship (a tenet core to our namesake, James Madison). Please visit each of our School’s websites to learn more about what our students, faculty and alumni are doing. There is a lot of good education going on here! As Madison so eloquently noted and we remind ourselves daily, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance.”


George Sparks, Ph.D., Dean, CVPA
Wren River Stevens, Ph.D., Associate Dean, CVPA

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