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Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Saint Louis University

SLU Department of Fine and Performing Arts

Saint Louis University's Department of Fine and Performing Arts is made up of four programs: art history, music, studio art, and theatre and dance. Each program emphasizes a different discipline, but all encourage reflection on the world around us through art. Our classes and arts experiences offer an excellent opportunity to study humanity, aesthetics and culture through theory and practice.

Fine and Performing Arts Programs

Art History

SLU's Art History program examines the significance of art across cultures and throughout history, with a critical eye on the contexts in which it was created.


SLU's Music program allows you to master your musical talents while working under the close tutelage of a faculty of professional musicians.

Studio Art

SLU's Studio Art program teaches you to see and think like a visual artist, utilizing many media to express your ideas.

Theatre and Dance

SLU's Theatre and Dance program collaborates as a performance company, fostering commitment to the group while strengthening your abilities in performance, design, direction and management. The dance minor investigates the expressive potential of dance as its own art form, in other fields, or in personal practice.

Mission Statement

Who Are We?

The Department of Fine and Performing Arts serves as a dynamic center for teaching, creating, and researching in the arts at Saint Louis University.

The Department of Fine and Performing Arts is an integral part of our Jesuit Catholic university, whose mission “encourages and supports innovative scholarship and effective teaching in all fields of the arts.” We, the faculty, actively engage with that mission as creative artists, committed educators, curious learners, and dynamic scholars who are innovators, storytellers, performers, experimenters, researchers, writers, craftspersons, builders, inventors, and collaborators.

Above all, SLU students are the heart of our work together as the center of the arts at SLU. Our department comprises four distinct programs–Art History, Music,  Studio Art, and Theatre & Dance –that allow students to forge their diverse paths in this world with their own approach to the arts. Our students also regularly explore our liberal arts university’s numerous other majors and minors and find connections to the arts across many academic disciplines. 

SLU endorses the arts visibly on our campus through its several arts-dedicated spaces, including a student art gallery, two performance theatres, and three campus art museums. Students also gain from our urban location in the vibrant center of St. Louis with two public art museums, four theatres, several art galleries, and one concert hall all within a few blocks of campus. 

What Do We Value and Why Are We Here?

Importantly, we are a value-driven department. To know our values is to understand what motivates our faculty and defines our students. Our primary values — and how we express them— include:

  • Creating art, dance, music, theatre, and scholarship that reflects the human condition
  • Embracing the arts as an outlet for expression and discovery
  • Promoting innovation and its challenges, successes, and failures 
  • Guiding exploration of the intellectual and creative potential through the arts
  • Pursuing knowledge in constant investigation leading to lifelong learning
  • Offering tools to develop authentic voices and agency through the arts
  • Cultivating community and collaboration with local, national, and international partners through the study and practice of the arts
  • Supporting diverse identities, learners, and creators in an inclusive, supportive environment
  • Seeking equitable, anti-racist, and anti-ableist policies, procedures, and curricula

What Is Our Vision For The Future?

We envision moving towards the following goals through creation and exploration of the arts in community with our arts colleagues on the SLU-Madrid campus:

  • Expanding opportunities in the arts for SLU students, faculty, and staff
  • Developing a greater public profile for the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at SLU and beyond
  • Striving together toward greater equity, inclusivity, and social justice

Fine and Performing Arts at SLU


main stage productions per year


annual art exhibitions


musical ensembles


students served per year

DEI Statement

The faculty and staff of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts acknowledge that the academy holds histories, barriers and biases that have marginalized and excluded the contributions of individuals of identities such as those of the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and neurodivergent communities. Since 2020, we have been undergoing a long-term, deliberate process of reflection, discussion and learning that we hope will bring meaningful systemic changes to our classes and programs.

To facilitate our work, we have established the Equitable Practices Committee with a representative from each department program. The committee consists of Ilene Berman, Lucy Cashion, Bukky Gbadegesin, Robert Hughes and Holly Seitz Marchant. Our department wants to ensure that our words and actions are intentional. We are committed to developing deeper understandings of our institutional and personal biases and working cooperatively with each other and with our students to grow and develop more inclusive, diverse, and equitable courses, programs, and curricula.

Department Name Change 

In the fall of 2021, we began an intentional exploration of the name of our department, Fine and Performing Arts, and what it reflects about each of our disciplines. We believe that names are important as they are how we choose to be identified. The department has determined that the word “fine” in our name communicates exclusionary ideas about the arts. For many of us, the history of the word “fine” in relationship to the arts would not include the types of arts we produce, study and teach in our classes. It also does not reflect our expansive aspirations for our work and students. We are crafting a new name that better reflects what we do and the directions in which we want to continue to grow. We hope to announce our new name and share our process of reflection soon. 

Accessibility and Equity

In 2023, we initiated a departmental discussion of the differences between accessibility and equity and how those differences exist within our classrooms, studios and performance spaces. Each program area has begun a self-assessment to determine what we recognize as areas of strength and areas of need regarding accessibility and equity. The results of the self-assessment will direct the actions we take. These actions are likely to include but are not limited to, accessing expertise outside of the department, convening students to hear their thoughts and concerns, establishing departmental practices that support growth, making it safe to acknowledge mistakes, and challenging our thinking.

For more information, read about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives in the College of Arts and Sciences and SLU's Division of Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement.