School of the Arts Absorbs cinema and theater

Over the summer, the School of the Arts absorbed two programs: Cinematic Arts moved from the Communications Department, and Theater moved from the Department of Entertainment Industry.

“Unofficially, cinematic arts and theater were in the school of the arts before,” said Dr. Terrance Brown, executive director of UNA’s School of the Arts. “However had a foothold in the department of entertainment industry and the department of communications which made it very difficult in terms of structure because there were several different reporting areas and policies that were in place. In order to alleviate that stress we felt it best to put them together under one unit,”

Students involved in these programs should have received an email during the summer detailing this transition. The choice to transition these programs came at a time when students would least feel their impact.

“Most of those things do happen in the summer basically because since students aren’t here we’re allowed to be able to work on policies and procedures because when you are here we want to be sure our attention goes directly towards you,” Brown said.

The idea for the move has been suggested before. Previous proposals had been presented but after the School of the Arts opened last fall, the timing became right.

“The unique thing about the cinematic arts and theater program is that there aren’t a lot of models in place for that,” Brown said. “We’re actually becoming a trend setter in developing a program that is integrated like that. It’s good to be on the forefront of new program development rather than on the back end.”

While the move allows for more cross connections between the arts, students are welcome to continue working through their communications or entertainment industry degree curriculum and graduate.

“I want to be sure that every decision made within the school of the arts is always student driven and is never from a one person point-of-view,” Brown said.

Currently, the School of the Arts pends approval from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and accreditation from the National Association of Schools for Theater for their BFA program for cinematic arts and theater. Hopefully, the program will be available Fall of 2020.

“[I came to UNA] because of their cinematic arts program. I heard that it was the best in the state,” said freshman Rush Waggoner, a cinematic arts student with hopes of working with Disney.

Adding concentrations in acting, cinematic arts, as well as production tech will help students succeed in this constantly evolving industry. New classes will be added to fill in current gaps, and make the degrees more meaningful.

“I think [the move] probably will benefit me,” Waggoner said. “As a Freshman I don’t really know anything from the communications department that well and so coming from a new curriculum will be very interesting for me and probably beneficial because as they’re figuring things out I’m also learning.”

Florence’s proximity to rising film hub Atlanta continues to attract students to this degree program. Several graduates currently have found work in the Atlanta film industry.

“When we’re talking about [cinematic arts and theater] and its formation, we want to make sure that students have the best opportunities to network,” Brown said. “To develop a curriculum that’s holistic and allow them to reach their full potential in their career paths.”