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College of Visual and Performing Arts 

Academic Units

School of Art, Design and Art History

Dr. Katherine Schwartz, Director

School of Music

Dr. Jeffrey Bush, Director

School of Theatre and Dance

Dr. John Burgess, Interim Director

Mission Statement

The College of Visual and Performing Arts is founded on the belief that artistic expression reveals the essential nature and diversity of human experience. Embracing traditional practices as well as contemporary approaches and technologies, the College provides a stimulating environment in which students create, perform, interpret, research, teach and think critically about the arts. The College actively supports creative and scholarly endeavors, collaboration between faculty and students, and interdisciplinary exchange. We are committed to making the arts an integral part of the life of the university and advancing their visibility, accessibility and understanding throughout the region and the world.


The programs in the college are committed to achieving the following common objectives:

  • To prepare students to be articulate, effective, and inspiring performers, educators, creators, scholars and professionals in the arts.
  • To attain recognition and leadership in the arts at the regional, national and global levels.
  • To enhance, develop and sustain undergraduate and graduate programs of distinction.
  • To support cultural, aesthetic and intellectual diversity, and to foster interdisciplinary exchange.
  • To offer students instruction and learning experiences that incorporate the latest technology, research and practices.
  • To engage the surrounding community as an active partner in promoting and experiencing the arts.

Majors and Minors

CVPA offers majors and minors from the following schools:

Resources and Events

Forbes Center for the Performing Arts

Executive Director: Ms. Regan Byrne
Phone: (540) 568-7000

Comprised of the Dorothy Thomasson Estes Center for Theatre and Dance and the Shirley Hanson Roberts Center for Music Performance, the Forbes Center houses five state-of-the-art performance venues: the Mainstage Theatre (450 seats), the Concert Hall (600 seats), the Recital Hall (196 seats) the Studio Theatre (200 seats) and the Earlynn J. Miller Dance Theatre (200 seats).

The center is home to the Masterpiece Season, a variety of cultural events for JMU and the entire community.  The schools of Art, Design and Art History, Music, and Theatre and Dance all take an active role in this series that also includes the Encore Series and Family Series featuring visiting artist performances that have included Imago Theatre, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Denyce Graves.


artWorks Gallery

Phone: (540) 568-6918

The artWorks Gallery features rotating exhibits of JMU undergraduate and graduate student work. The gallery is managed by students in the School of Art, Design and Art History.
The gallery is located a short walk from Duke Hall on the second floor of 131 Grace Street, JMU, Harrisonburg, VA. The artWorks Gallery is a curricular component of the School of Art, Design and Art History.

Duke Hall Gallery

Director: Mr. Gary Freeburg
Phone: (540) 568-6918

Duke Hall Gallery is a professional art gallery featuring changing exhibitions of international, national and regional significance. In addition to showing contemporary art, a hallmark of the gallery’s mission is to demonstrate art’s multicultural and interdisciplinary dynamic. Duke Hall Gallery is located in Duke Hall, Room 1022, on the corner of Main and Grace Streets. Duke Hall Gallery is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Art, Design and Art History.

New Image Gallery

Phone: (540) 568-6918


Institute for Visual Studies

Director: Dr. David Ehrenpreis
Phone: (540) 568-5656

The Institute for Visual Studies is a center for scholarly, scientific and creative inquiry into the nature and workings of images. An incubator of new ideas, the institute fosters discovery, and the generation of artworks, products, and applications by multidisciplinary teams of students and faculty. The Institute for Visual Studies is a collaboration among faculty representing all colleges at the university. It is located in Roop Hall, room 208.

Madison Art Collection

Director: Dr. Kathryn Stevens
Phone: (540) 568-6934

The Madison Art Collection provides unique learning opportunities for the entire JMU community and the general public, including experiential internships, diverse exhibits, and coursework. The Lisanby Museum is located in the lower level of the Festival Conference and Student Center in room 1108. The Madison Art Collection oversees Prism and Prism International Galleries also located in Festival. These spaces host exhibits which emphasize aspects of diversity, including areas of culture, religion, gender and sexuality.