Arts Impact

Sep 1, 2019–Aug 31, 2020September 1, 2019–August 31, 2020

To Duke University's creative community,

During times like these, we are reminded of how art can connect, comfort, and challenge us. I saw this power on Zoom as Duke students told incoming first-years about our campus arts culture during orientation. I see it in the eyes of our faculty as they teach music safely outdoors, distanced, and masked. I hope as you review 2019-2020 in the arts, you are energized by this reminder that despite the circumstances, art connects us to our shared humanity.

2019-2020 marked Scott Lindroth's final year as vice provost for the arts—and, as you’ll see, it was a strong finish to his accomplishments! Our key program initiatives, including the American Ballet Theatre multi-year residency, have been reinvented for the online or hybrid experience as we protect our community from COVID-19.

In 2019, an arts planning group convened by Duke University President Vincent E. Price recommended the vice provost for the arts position be made full time to implement and further develop the university’s strategy in the performing and visual arts. In the coming months and years, I intend to transform collaboration and deepen our regional partnerships.

Duke Arts is positioned to be a leader in reimagining and restoring arts and culture. A clear vision is more important now than ever. With your support, our boldest dreams are possible.

With gratitude,

handwritten autograph

John V. Brown Jr., J.D.

Vice Provost for the Arts
Director of the Jazz Program
Professor of the Practice of Music

John Brown

Vice Provost for the Arts John Brown. Photo by Jade Wilson.

“During the pandemic, the world—like Duke—has changed. Yet our arts community has never been more resilient—nor more vital. While our venues may now be closed, Duke is responding with new ways to connect artists with audiences. We are looking forward to being able to gather once more to experience art together, in person.”

—Vincent E. Price

President, Duke University


Academic Art Programs

Undergraduate & graduate degrees, minors, & certificates


Arts Faculty


Student Arts Groups


Visiting Artists Supported by Duke Arts

(Sep 1, 2019–Aug 31, 2020)


Performances in Duke Theaters

(Sep 1, 2019–Mar 10, 2020)


Online Arts Events

(Mar 10–Sep 1, 2020)
Duke Chapel carillon also streamed daily

Vice Provost for the Arts Initiatives

2019–2020 Duke Arts Priorities

August 2019

DukeCreate Arts Workshops Deepen and Expand

Under the direction of Duke Arts and with a new director of DukeCreate in place, this workshop program expands in 2019–2020 to serve a total of 1,764 students, staff, and faculty in 165 workshops taught by 48 instructors.

A Look Back at 5 Years of DukeCreate

October 2019

Vice Provost for the Arts Search Committee Appointed

Scott Lindroth, vice provost for the arts, announced that he will step down June 30, 2020, from his current role to return full time to teaching in the Department of Music. Provost Sally Kornbluth appoints search committee to find Lindroth's successor.

November 2019

Ten Years of DEMAN

The 10th annual Duke Entertainment, Media, & Arts Network Weekend gathered 400 students, 250 alumni, and 50 faculty for workshops, panel discussions, keynote presentations, and social events in the Rubenstein Arts Center and the new Karsh Alumni and Visitor Center.

DEMAN 10 talk

North Carolina Museum Director Valerie Hillings ‘93 and Professor Kristine Stiles at DEMAN 10. Photo by Robert Zimmerman.

In Their Own Words: Celebrating a Decade of DEMAN

Growing a Culture for Art

Supporting Artists in the Rubenstein Arts Center

The Rubenstein Arts Center is a catalyst for creativity and artistic exploration. The flexible arts project program provided support (funding, space, marketing, and technical assistance) for 17 Duke students, faculty, and visiting artists in 2019-2020. The program funds working residencies, exhibitions, and interactive installations.

immersive installation queerXscape

Sinan Goknur and Max Symuleski, PhD candidates in Duke’s Computational Media, Arts & Cultures program, developed the immersive installation queerXscape in the Ruby in Sep 2019. Photo by Robert Zimmerman.

January 2020

Inaugural DukeCreate Ceramics Academy

Four two-hour Saturday workshops offered an in-depth experience to 12 students.

ceramics workshop

“The longer format allows students to learn so much more about the material of clay and gets them so engaged that most seem to want to continue learning and making.” —Durham artist and Ceramics Academy instructor Anna Wallace. Photo by Megan Mendenhall.

March 2020

Duke Performances Brings Radio Haïti to the Rubenstein Arts Center

The Ruby hosted a Duke Performances residency with many layers: the world premiere of a commission, Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever; public talks and class visits; and a supporting installation in the Murthy Agora, Radio Haïti-Inter: Three Decades of Resistance.

Leyla McCalla: Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever

See the full scope of this artist residency. Duke Performances video production for Radio Haïti and ABT by Kid Ethnic.

Growing a Culture for Art

StudioDuke: Professional Mentorship for Student Creatives

The third year of this collaboration with Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Duke Alumni paired eight students with professional mentors to develop projects in creative writing, film, music, and visual arts.

James Robinson ‘20 is a Student Academy Awards Finalist
James Robinson Documentary thumbnail

As part of the 2019–2020 StudioDuke cohort, Robinson ‘20 worked with a mentor, CDS alumnus and filmmaker Ryan White ‘04, to channel his academic focus on environmental science and documentary studies into a short film: “Louisiana’s Missing Coast.”

April 2020

COVID-19 Arts Response

With live events on pause in response to the pandemic, Duke Arts supports the Duke Performances livestream series, the Durham Arts Council artist relief fund, gives funding for studio art faculty to mail supplies to students, and launches the Art and Artists are Essential campaign. DEMAN and DukeCreate begin online programming.

How Do You Teach Art & Collaborate Remotely?
paper coronavirus model interpretation

Coronavirus made for “Intermediate Printmaking” by Maya Rinehart ‘20.

Growing a Culture for Art

American Ballet Theatre Residency

Year two of this wide-ranging partnership between Duke University and ABT, led by Duke Performances, was cut short by the coronavirus crisis weeks before Giselle was due to open at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Before March, three master classes were taught in the Rubenstein Arts Center by ABT, the ABT Studio Company held open repertory rehearsals, and Stefanie Batten Bland developed new work in collaboration with Duke students and local dancers.

American Ballet Theatre performance

Duke University and ABT are engaged in an unprecedented three-year partnership (2018–2021), produced by Duke Performances in collaboration with Duke Arts and Duke Dance.

May 2020

Celebrating Scott Lindroth, Duke's First Vice Provost for the Arts

Scott Lindroth’s 13-year tenure as Duke’s first vice provost for the arts concluded in June 2020. Looking back, Lindroth reflects on the many relationships, partnerships, and commitments that elevated the arts on campus.

Scott Lindroth

Photo by Jared Lazarus.

Duke’s Chief Arts Advocate Reflects on 13 Years of Momentum

Growing a Culture for Art

Benenson Award in the Arts

Duke Arts administers the Benenson Award in the Arts for the first time (the award was previously housed in Undergraduate Research Support), giving students and Class of 2020 alumni meaningful support for summer artistic development, despite many original plans being canceled due to COVID-19.

The Second City's Stand-Up Comedy over Zoom

“Even though the times are hard, sometimes jumping into your art form can give you the energy you need to feel like yourself again!” Shaina Lubliner ‘20 trained with The Second City's Stand-Up Comedy over Zoom this summer thanks to support from the Benenson Award.

June 2020

John Brown Appointed Vice Provost for the Arts

John Brown, director of the Duke University Jazz Program and professor of the practice of music, is named vice provost for the arts. “One of my main missions will be to enable our artists and arts organizations to unite us as human beings, to strengthen our shared community, and to demonstrate our collective resilience, despite the pandemic and this division,” states Brown.

John Brown

Photo by Jade Wilson.

John Brown Appointed Duke’s First Full Time Vice Provost for the Arts


Duke's culture of creative innovation is fueled by our arts faculty

New Faculty Appointments

Akhil Sharma (Creative Writing)

Yun Emily Wang (Music)

Ieva Jokubaviciute (Music)

Faculty Retirements

Julie Walters (Dance)

Melissa Malouf (English)

Randall Love (Music)

Susan Dunn (Music)

2019–2020 Highlights

Seven Undergraduate Students Co-Curate an Exhibition of Ancient American Art at the Nasher Museum (Art, Art History & Visual Studies)

Two Events Making Duke the Center of Black Dance (Dance)

Two Graduate Composition Fellows win 2020 Charles Ives Scholarships (Music)

Director and Alumni in Southern Cultures Vol. 26: “The Documentary Moment” (MFA EDA)

Filmmaking and Social Distancing: When Going Viral is a Good Thing (Theater)

Art History Doctoral Student Kelly Tang Joins Duke Board of Trustees (Art, Art History & Visual Studies)

Space & Community

Exceptional Organizations and Public Programs Connecting Duke to Durham & Beyond

2019–2020 highlights

Nasher Museum Announces Sarah Schroth's Retirement (Oct 21)

Nasher Museum’s Ebony G. Patterson Exhibition Named in Hyperallergic’s List of Top 20 U.S. Art Shows of 2019 (Dec 12)

CDS’s Acclaimed Podcast, Scene on Radio, Explores American Democracy in Season 4 (Jan–Jun)

Duke Performances Launches Livestream Series Supporting Artist Relief Funds (Apr 8)

Trevor Schoonmaker Named Director of Nasher Museum (April 21)

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Announces 2020 Award Winners (Apr 22)

Duke Student Groups Take Spring Showcases Online (May 7)

Bobby Asher Appointed Director of Duke Performances (May 28)

Sarah P. Duke Gardens Releases “Art of the Garden” with Duke Performances (Jun)

Full Frame Receives $50,000 from the NEA Through the CARES Act (Jul)

Student Art Awards

Honoring undergraduate artistic achievement

2020 Louis Sudler Prize: Thandolwethu Mamba ‘20

“[Mamba] has a magnificent voice, already mature beyond his years. His diction is immaculate, his projection of the German texts (Mahler’s own poems) is breathtaking, and his artistry is comparable to the best world-class singers many times his age.”

—John W. Lambert

Reviewing Mamba’s Raleigh Symphony Orchestra performance in Classical Voice of North Carolina

Meet Thandolwethu Mamba ‘20
Thandolwethu Mamba

Mamba takes a bow after singing with the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra in March 2020. Photo by Mark Rainey.

2020 Benenson Arts Awards

“[In response to COVID-19], we revised the funding model to offer all selected awardees the same grant amount. The hope is that these funds will support and sustain their work over the summer months and, for the graduating seniors, into the immediate future.”

—Jules Odendahl-James

Academic Advising Center’s Director of Academic Engagement, Arts & Humanities

Meet the 2020 Benenson Arts Awardees
Benenson Arts Awardees

Art & Artists Are Essential

Art connects us meaningfully even when we are apart

Interviews with faculty, students, and Duke Performances musicians revealed how artists navigated the early months of the pandemic.


Artist interviews & faculty reflections

Published by Duke Arts to give voice to artists


Profiles of Class of 2020 MFA EDA graduates

In lieu of in-person thesis exhibitions


Unique visitors to in April 2020

(versus 4,574 in April 2019)

John Brown

“I want Duke to be first in acknowledging the human need for art during these difficult times and to show how we, as a university, are resilient. We can lead the charge.”

John Brown

Vice Provost for the Arts

Dario Robleto

“The radical nature of art, at least the truth of it that I have come to embrace, is its capacity for care, empathy, reciprocity, invitation and correspondence with others.”

Dario Robleto

Artist & Member of the Nasher Museum’s Board of Advisors

Stefanie Batten Bland

“What we will make on the other side will remind us that we must see the world differently, see and hear one another differently.”

Stefanie Batten Bland

American Ballet Theatre, Duke Performances Visiting Choreographic Artist

Ashleigh Smith

“Creating is healing. Taking time to create together or in solitude is an important bridge to healing and happiness in hard times.”

Ashleigh Smith ‘20

Nasher Museum of Art Intern

Sarah Wilbur

“COVID-19 has turned ‘care work’ into everyone’s work. Creative care strategies seem, to me, to be 'essential' in this time of isolation.”

Sarah Wilbur

Assistant Professor of the Practice, Dance

Lauren Henschel

“My hope for this work was to force people, on the most basic level, to have to confront their own body, and what happens when that body doesn’t work anymore.”

Lauren Henschel

MFA EDA ‘20 on her work Fibers of Being

Visual Collection

Documentary Art at Home & Away

We invited artists affiliated with the MFA EDA and the Center for Documentary Studies to share work illustrating the height of the quarantine and sequester period of the COVID-19 pandemic. This visual collection from early spring captures the early days of sheltering in place. After the brutal killing of George Floyd on May 25, as Tom Rankin (director, MFA EDA and professor of the practice of art and documentary) puts it, “the simplicity of staying home, and away, [was] supplanted with individual and collective desires to express outrage and demand change.”

See the collection

Thank You

For supporting the arts at Duke University

Thank you to the thousands of donors and volunteers who continually support the arts. With your investments, we have created an exceptional arts culture and have woven the arts into the fabric of the Duke experience.heart icon

Donor Spotlights

Creating new possibilities for Duke Students

“Participating in the arts at Duke was an intentional part of my journey in growing into an intellectual and professional that will have a multifaceted impact on the world.”

—Casey Pettiford ‘20

Support the arts at Duke

Help shape the arts at Duke by making a gift online at or contact Colin Tierney at University Development to explore the many opportunities to give, from the performing arts and faculty professorships to the student arts experience.

Colin Tierney

Office of University Development

(919) 684-3838