WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Working to support an increasingly female student body entering a male-dominated field, the School of Design and Production (D&P) at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will host an unprecedented “Weekend of Women+” (WOW+) event on Jan. 24-25.
The event will bring together nine successful professional women+ from across the design and production industries for a weekend of programs and workshops with students and the public. A panel discussion with the featured guests discussing issues facing women+ in these industries, which is open to the public, will be live-streamed at https://www.facebook.com/uncsadnp/ on Jan. 24 from 4:30-6 p.m.
“We are planning this weekend to provide our students the opportunities to learn about and develop strategies to address the unique challenges facing women+ of varied identities through discussion, networking, creation and community,” said Michael J. Kelley, dean of the School of Design and Production.
Guest artists will include Christina Benvegnu, key production assistant and stage manager; Roma Flowers, Bessie Award-winning lighting and projection designer; Herita Jones, Emmy-nominated makeup artist and CEO, Cosmetic Face Design; Molly Maginnis, BAFTA-nominated film, TV and theater costume designer; Cricket Myers, Tony-nominated sound designer; Aimee Plant, props artisan; Kristen Robinson, set designer and Princess Grace Fellow; Karen Walcott, production supervisor; and Nicola Rossini, executive producer, founder of Harriet B’s Daughters (women in themed entertainment).
Friday evening break-out sessions will cover topics ranging from managing family and feminist collaborations to addressing microaggressions in the workplace and positive Ally-ship. Guests will also be invited to attend classes and interact with students during the day.
On Jan. 25, guest artists and students will gather in the School of Design and Production in multiple maker spacers to create group art projects – each focused on celebration and positive strategizing – and discuss the female experience of passing down making skills in collaborative settings. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., the maker spaces will be opened to the public to view the work created as a living museum.
WOW+ is being produced and run by D&P students, in collaboration with faculty members Elizabeth Alexander, visual arts/sculpture; Susan Crabtree, scenic art/scene painting; Kris Julio, stage properties; Clifton Taylor, lighting design; and Chair Molly McCarter, stage management.
Dean Kelley said the weekend is designed to serve the entire D&P student body, both female and male. “Our undergraduate D&P student body has been around 60 percent female for the past four years, but this year it jumped to 65 percent,” Kelley said. “Yet the industry is dominated by men.”
“As the top school preparing the future leaders of our industry, it’s our responsibility to give our students the tools to navigate and, indeed, change the industry,” Kelley concluded.
Undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Design and Production include animatronics, costume design, costume technology, lighting, production and project management, scene design, scene painting, scenic art, scenic technology, sound design, stage automation, stage management, stage properties, technical direction, and wig and makeup design.
In the past, the design and production industry focused on careers in stagecraft – jobs behind the scenes of a play in a theater. “Now, our School of Design and Production teaches global entertainment,” Kelley said. “While Broadway and international tours are our backbone, we also teach you to work in themed entertainment (such as theme parks) in Dubai and China, and aboard cruise ships.”
In addition to Dean Kelley and the School of Design and Production, WOW+ is presented by UNCSA Interim Provost Karin Peterson and the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at UNCSA.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is America’s first state-supported arts school, a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in dance, design and production, drama, filmmaking, and music. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system when it was formed in 1972.
For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.