Performing arts divides into two departments

Two new departments recently formed under the umbrella of the year-old performing arts division.

One department consists of dance and theatre and the other of fine arts and music. The move, according to interim dean of arts and sciences Betsy Morgan, fills an organizational hole in Eastern’s academic structure.

“These things are disciplines in their own right,” she said.

Previously, dance, fine arts and music had offered their own majors, but had been scattered throughout Eastern’s academic structure. For instance, dance and theatre had resided under the communications department, and fine arts had been called a program.

The reason for this arrangement had been the requirement that departments have at least three full-time faculty members, according to Morgan. None of the programs except dance had that many, but Morgan realized they could be combined to meet the faculty requirement.

“Dance has two, theatre has one. You do the math,” she said.

The move also made sense based on the relationships between the programs. Ron Matthews was already chairing the music department and overseeing the fine arts students, and dance and theatre had been working together on productions.

“There’s shared interests there because of space and equipment,” Matthews said.

Director of theatre Mark Hallen agreed.

“It’s like we’ve been living together for years,” he said of the dance and theatre programs. “Now we’re going to be officially married.”

Morgan said she hopes that one day dance and theatre can split from each other and become their own departments, and that all the programs will grow as a result of the move.

Karen Clemente had agreed to chair the department of dance and theater, while Matthews will continue to chair the music and fine arts department as well as the performing arts division.

Those involved feel that the move will allow them to be more united and thus more powerful in their production of the arts.

“They think about making arts; they feel each other’s creativity,” Morgan said. “Now you have these artists in the room talking about what they can make together. It’s bound to have more susbstance, more energy.”

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