The University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem has just announced its upcoming performance schedule of dance, drama, music, opera, and film screenings. It's the first season in two years without COVID protocols, but the changes don't end there.

To prepare students for professional careers in the arts, this year's season will highlight collaborations between the drama and music departments: Stephen Sondheim's dark comedy Sweeney Todd, Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, and after a two-year COVID hiatus, the return of the full production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker ballet. 

With restrictions now lifted, these events will be able to accommodate capacity crowds. UNCSA Provost Patrick Sims says the pandemic has in some ways changed what it means to be a 21st century conservatory — and that means embracing a broader student perspective.

"They have another part in mind," says Simms. "So, it's one thing to be able to master Tchaikovsky, it's another thing to be able to take that skill set and appreciation for that particular art form and invent something new. And our students are very much toward that end of the spectrum — that they want to invent the new thing, and our industries are calling for it."

Sims says this new approach to arts education will be led by a new generation of faculty members — 18 have joined this semester, and the school is poised to add a dozen or more who will begin teaching in 2023. 

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