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About the College

The David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts was established in 2007 to provide a range of opportunities to research, study, create, produce, perform, and present ideas and issues in the arts. The Belcher College is comprised of programs in Art and Design, Music, and Stage and Screen.


Our faculty are actively involved in creative work, performance, and independent scholarship. They provide individualized instruction to our students pursuing studies in studio arts, graphic design, musical theatre, television and film production, art education and more.

The Belcher College is also dedicated to being a cultural hub for the region, offering performances, exhibitions and other creative arts programming throughout the year for the university and the larger community. Additionally, we have a significant number of regional partnerships that help enhance creative collaboration and access to the arts in Western North Carolina.

The David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts is the creative showcase for the University. Through its dedication to excellence and the integration of teaching, scholarship and service by its faculty, the Belcher College offers educational opportunities to a wide variety of students and the larger community. Through musical performances, theatre, dance, film, and the visual arts, the Belcher College is a unique and highly visible source of cultural enrichment that reaches far beyond the University community.

Scholarship and creative activity are integral to the mission of the Belcher College. The processes of creative thought and activity demonstrated by its faculty and students provide a lasting and sustainable contribution to the life of the mind and spirit. This role challenges the Belcher College to reveal and explore avenues of human expression in forms unique to the arts, and to seek innovative and integrated means for faculty and students to discover and create art which expresses both personal and community values.

The Mission

The Mission of the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts at Western Carolina University is to inspire, educate, and train our next generation of artists, scholars, and teachers in the intellectual foundations and creative processes of the fine and performing arts while fostering excellence and artistic curiosity across western North Carolina and beyond.


In support of its mission, the goals of the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts are to:

  • Provide excellent educational opportunities for majors, minors, general University students, and community members through regular and thoughtful evaluation of curriculum and programs.
  • Recruit and support highly qualified faculty who will serve as models in arts performance, teaching, scholarship, and service, and who clearly communicate their understanding of the values and discipline inherent in artistic education.
  • Maintain a physical and social environment which is conducive to teaching, learning, research and creativity by faculty and students by providing sufficient and appropriate classroom and laboratory space, equipment, materials and human resources.
  • Support the integration of teaching, scholarship and service for both faculty and students.
  • Integrate advancements in technology in the arts into new and current coursework by researching and developing innovative skills and methods.
  • Bring to the campus a significant roster of artists, performers, and exhibitions to enrich the cultural climate for students and the community.
  • Create, through all its activities, a level of arts-literacy in all constituencies which recognizes the contribution that creative work makes to the maturation of the individual and a free society.
  • Seek, obtain and maintain professional accreditation in all appropriate areas as a measure of program accomplishment.
  • Enhance local, regional and national awareness of College opportunities and activities through media exposure of all types.

Beyond this, the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts is committed to:

  • Facilitate departmental operations and oversee a physical plant conducive to its goals.
  • Secure funding from sources both within and outside the University.
  • Facilitate long range planning for the creative and cultural disciplines within the College and create opportunities for their integration where appropriate.
  • Recruit highly qualified students and develop audiences that represent an ever-broader segment of the community.
  • Provide professional guidance for students through advising and career planning.
  • Maintain active relationships with alumni in order to encourage their continuing involvement with the Belcher College as guest artists, success stories, and sources of support.

Diversity Statement

The faculty, staff, students, and leadership of the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts affirm with this statement that we are an inclusive and welcoming artistic and educational community. We strive to create an artistic and scholarly home that reflects the people we serve, now and in the future, a home where everyone feels empowered to realize their full, authentic selves as a valued and contributing member. We foster academic achievement, artistic curiosity, freedom of expression, and personal integrity. We dignify and respect the individual as well as advance the practice of inclusiveness and acceptance of differing cultures, philosophies, identities, and ways of life regardless of race, ethnicity, color, religion, creed, national origin or citizenship status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or parental status including pregnancy, political affiliation, age, or ableness. While we recognize historical and cultural struggles to embrace diversity, we believe in the power and passion of the fine and performing arts to positively and proactively influence our changing world, and commit to leveraging that power to ensure the inclusive world we desire.

Our diversity and inclusion efforts will therefore focus on:

  • Engaging the university and region with artistic performances, exhibits, and scholarship that celebrate the rich diversity available for us to experience and share;
  • Educating our audiences by highlighting these efforts in programs, pre/post show discussions, and promotional materials;
  • Inviting guest artists and scholars from underrepresented populations to interact with our students and community, as well as encouraging faculty collaboration with diverse artists, scholars, and artistic organizations;
  • Encouraging and supporting the creation of a variety of student arts organizations, learning communities, and faculty interest groups, including groups for and focused on Women, LGTBQ (Pride & Allies), Native American, African, and Hispanic Ancestries, Veterans, the economically-disadvantaged, and more;
  • Revising our curriculum to seriously examine how diversity is made manifest across our academic offerings;
  • Committing to incorporating diversity and inclusiveness into all syllabi, course content, and programming, as well as prioritizing at least one Student Learning Outcome that focuses on diversity and inclusiveness in future assessment cycles;
  • Presenting ourselves publicly as an inclusive environment through multi-lingual recruitment and promotional materials and developing application and audition processes that create alternative pathways to our programs;
  • Updating policies across the college—including Tenure, Promotion, and Reappointment and Annual Faculty Evaluation—to recognize and reward diversity and inclusiveness efforts as well as strengthening hiring practices to ensure diverse candidates receive full consideration free from unconscious bias.
  • These diversity and inclusion objectives, and progress towards achieving them, will be assessed annually to ensure our actions reflect our passion for these values.

Adopted January 16, 2020

Land Acknowledgement

Western Carolina University is situated in the northern Cullowhee Valley, centrally located along the Tuckasegee River in the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern North Carolina. This is the Cherokee homeland, and the Qualla Boundary, seat of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is located about 20 miles downstream from the campus area. It is the only public university established on the site of a named Cherokee town and a traditional sacred place.

Learn more about Western Carolina University's Land Acknowledgement by viewing the formal Land Acknowledgement document  or the Land Acknowledgement information page.


Western Carolina University and the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts maintain program specific accreditations, certifications, endorsements, and memberships with:

National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) 

National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) 

National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) 

Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) 

American Alliance of Museums


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