Photo by Richard Brusky
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas offers educational multiplicity including its College of Fine Arts, one of the largest fine arts colleges in the nation. Offering a diverse experience, creating a well-rounded education, and various art skills provide a wide range of opportunities for emerging artists to embark on professional careers, including commercial producing, corporate theatre, cruise, hospitality, and nonprofit arts.
Specifically, in Las Vegas (the entertainment capital), training at the CFA serves as the wellspring for the local creative workforce that sustains the hugely important creative economy both in the area and around the world. Its Entertainment Engineering & Design program is directly connected to building the spectacles of stage mechanics, theme parks, and trade show booths. Its faculty and adjuncts bring a diversity of knowledge and experience to the college. The program also works with the platform of theater to champion live entertainment. Students majoring in this discipline can find work both in live performances as well as digit mediums. Lighting design is another specialty that is now embraced by creatives.
International music professors, Native American visual artists, including Fawn Douglas, and professors in theatre and film with Adam Paul, Clarence Gilyard, and Nate Bynum are active in their professions as well as the college.
Dr. Nancy J. Uscher is Dean of the College of Fine Arts and presidential professor of music. She oversees the seven departments and schools, eight curated gallery spaces, including the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, six theatre venues, and the UNLV Performing Arts Center. She has served at UNLV for six years but has been visiting Southern Nevada since she was a child.
“Las Vegas is a beautiful city with a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene,” she says. “When I got the opportunity to become dean of this college, I wanted the privilege to nurture a high quality, vivacious art program in the entertainment capital.”
One important program is the Master of Fine Arts for Stage Management in the Theater Department. This program offers state-of-the-art equipment and prototypes used in other live venues, and students are trained in the rapidly evolving technologies of stage management. Created by Shannon J. Sumpter, M.F.A., Professor at UNLV, Associate Chair, Head of Stage Management, Production Manager, graduates are employed in this discipline in Las Vegas, nationally and internationally, including cruises. Several are now instructors and professors, including one graduate with extensive experience who is teaching an undergraduate program at UNLV.
The Department of Film offers degree programs combining the latest industry practices, traditional storytelling, and intellectual film history. This foundation was designed for graduate study and careers in movies, television, and digital media.
As part of the CFA, the School of Architecture is the only school of architecture in the state of Nevada. The accredited programs in three disciplines offered include architect, landscape architecture, and interior architecture and design.
“Our disciplines, schools, and programs are very ambitious, and we aspire to prepare our students for fulfilling careers now and in the future,” says Dean Uscher. “Our college offers diversity in disciplines, students, and faculty. Many of our students are the first generation to attend college, and they just soar.”
“Arts and entertainment are vital in Nevada. We [College of Fine Arts] are a big part of the workforce in live entertainment on the Strip, including the T-Mobile and Allegiant stadiums, Strip resorts, The Smith Center, and resorts downtown. Tickets bring huge revenue to Nevada, accompanied by revenue from lodging, gaming, dining, and beverages,” explains Sumpter.
One goal of the CFA is to develop students that will create jobs in the future using their education. The programs are designed to encourage inventive, original thinking and allow students the freedom to look forward to the future.
CFA offers live performances in theater, music, and dance, films by students with visual art, and interior design exhibitions. Interdisciplinary opportunities include choreography, music theater with film, and opera with a digital aspect. The Nevada Conservatory Theatre is the theater company of CFA connected to the theater department.