On March 6, NC State University announced its new Department of Performing Arts and Technology. This department includes NC State’s Arts Entrepreneurship, Music and Dance Programs and its Music Technology Bachelor of Science degree.

For NC State, housing these programs all in one department makes sense. As Vice Chancellor and Dean Doneka Scott says, combining performing arts and technology is common in “similar-sized institutions,” one example of this being the University of Michigan. She goes on to say this move will allow for “greater cohesion and an even broader range of interdisciplinary courses in the arts.”

Scott asked these programs to combine into one department last year. After lots of research and planning, department leadership and faculty finalized the merger this past February. The Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost officially approved the change on February 17.

While this move brings faculty from each program together, one of its more significant faculty impacts is on dance. This new formation unites NC State dance faculty, who had previously been under the Dance Program and the Department of Health and Exercise Studies, giving students “greater diversity and breadth of academic offerings and personnel,” says Scott.

In addition to bringing faculty together, this merger also expands the Dance minor into two offerings, Dance Studies and Dance Choreography. Teaching Professor of Dance and Associate Head of the newly formed department, Beth Wright Fath, highlights the importance of the merger for dance, saying it “provides a home for curricular and co-curricular dance opportunities.”

The Music minor already offers two paths for students to get involved, with both a general and a performance track. While the arts entrepreneurship minor does not have multiple paths as the others do, it does have a capstone experience course, which provides students with the opportunity to do an entrepreneurial project for a nonprofit or local arts business.

The department’s first major will be a Bachelor of Science in Music Technology, which will start in the upcoming fall 2023 semester. The degree aims to “foster and support music-based entrepreneurial initiatives at the intersection of technological innovation and creative expression.” 

With this new degree, the music program will join forces with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Together, they will allow students to “integrate a broad range of musical styles, performance practices and creative projects with the design, development and implementation of advanced music technologies.”

While the addition of a Music Technology major may seem out of the blue to some, many are unaware that the popular music of today would not be possible without technology. As composer Jonathan D. Kramer states, “technology is involved in the reinforcement of concert halls, the recording and broadcast of music, and the design and construction of musical instruments.” The advancement of music production, music listening experiences and music creation are all possible thanks to advances in technology, from audio editing software to vinyl records and anything in between. As time has progressed, these two fields have become further intertwined. Having “strengths in engineering, technology and entrepreneurship, NC State is well-positioned to lead the nation in producing highly skilled music technology graduates.”

Daniel Monek, professor of Music and head of the new department, said it will “build on the natural synergies” between the music and dance disciplines, as well as the “talents of our faculty who are all leaders in their respective fields.” This merger allows leaders of these programs to “create new departmental structures and creative curricular offerings that will open pathways for greater engagement with students and increased collaboration with one another.”

Students looking to get involved with these programs can find the department on social media @ncstateartstech or view the department’s website.