Theatre Costume Design faculty, Associate Professor, Lia Hansen, and I attended the NAST Conference in Portland, Oregon, at the Downtown Hilton Hotel March 29 – 31, 2018. This was an important conference for two reasons. Theatre Arts is up for continued accreditation, and I also submitted a Plan Approval for a new concentration, Stage & Screen Acting/Directing, which will replace one of our current three concentrations, Performing/Directing. I anticipated finding out our status at the conference, as this is how it was done in the past years, but they will be mailing the letters out to the schools at the end of April.
I learned that NAST only grants accreditation to about 10% of the schools that apply for the first time. This was mind blowing to know that we were given accreditation right out of the gate after our first site visit and self-study. We were in the top 10%. I also learned that ‘community engagement’ was the through-line in many of the workshops and breakout groups. This is something we will continue to pursue.
We have just partnered with the OC Fair Grounds and CEO, Kathy Kramer. We have been given a grant donation for our Phase II Renovation (The Barn Theater), and exchange for the donation, our Cabaret Ensemble will perform at the Fair Grounds (Imaginology, Veteran’s Day, and the Fair events) throughout the entire year. They also made it clear that this can be an ongoing partnership. We are also looking into other ways that we can partner with the community and the under served schools. I will also be looking for professional engagement with some of the regional theaters in our surrounding area.
Another workshop that was quite informative was the Developing Curriculum Workshop. I learned that we can have VU write a new charter in order for us to establish a B.F.A. program, or we can also offer a B.A. in Musical Theatre and a B.A. in our other concentrations as well instead of the B.F.A., which is something we may pursue down the road.