Converse College’s School of the Arts offers immersion experience for prospective students

From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

Prospective arts students and their parents will get to see what Converse College’s School of the Arts has to offer during a two-day showcase later this month.

The School of the Arts, which includes visual arts, theater and dance and the Petrie School of Music, is celebrating its fifth year as a combined program, said college spokeswoman Beth Lancaster. The Petrie School of Music and other arts programs at Converse were long established, but the college decided to combine them into one school to better serve students, encourage more collaboration between the arts disciplines and create an arts hub for the Spartanburg community. The School for the Arts offers 14 undergraduate major and minor programs in music, seven in art and design, and two in theater and dance, plus four graduate level degrees. The school has 18 music faculty, eight visual arts professors and five for theater and dance, in addition to several more adjunct professors.

The two-day showcase, Oct. 24-25, will give prospective students the opportunity to attend informative sessions on career opportunities in the arts; application, portfolio or audition procedures; and Converse’s degree programs in the arts.

“We’ve never done this as one event before,” Lancaster said. “This will be a different kind of immersion experience.”

Prospective music, musical theater and theater and dance students will be able to have a private lesson with faculty, rehearse and perform with current students and sample music theory, history and theater classes. The workshop will also be a chance for students to prepare for regional/all-state band, chorus and orchestra auditions.

“Hopefully by the end of the weekend, we’ll (faculty, students and prospective students) make some theater together,” said theater professor Boone Hopkins. “The students will learn what we offer and we (faculty) will get to know them. We love for the parents to come. We want to show that we’re going to teach your child how to build a career in the arts.”

Music faculty will also perform during the showcase.

Those interested in visual arts will learn from faculty how to put together a portfolio, attend a workshop to prepare for the visual arts scholarship auditions and take classes in the Milliken Fine Arts Building.

The first 30 registrants for the showcase will be able to spend the night on campus and tour Converse with current students.

Faculty see the showcase as an important opportunity to demonstrate to parents that there are viable careers in the arts, said interior design professor Ruth Beals. “We’ve been very successful — there has been extremely strong job placement for our graduates,” Beals said of her department. Interior design students complete an internship and have numerous opportunities to work in companies outside of the classroom before they graduate, and art therapy majors complete clinicals, Beals said.

Right now, there are 120 visual arts majors, 90 in music and 42 in theater in the School of the Arts. Converse arts graduates typically attend graduate school in their disciplines. They teach in their fields, have shown their work in major galleries, joined orchestras and received contracts in opera or theater, said School of the Arts dean Richard Higgs.

“They learn a lot of business skills, how nonprofits work, how they produce their own music, land a job as a designer or how to get into a professional gallery,” he said.

The showcase is open to female high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, for a fee.

For more information, call (864) 596-9040 or visit