Open Collections

UBC Publications

UBC Publications

UBC Publications

President's Report on the Creative and Performing Arts 1990

Item Metadata


JSON: presrep-1.0115226.json
JSON-LD: presrep-1.0115226-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): presrep-1.0115226-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: presrep-1.0115226-rdf.json
Turtle: presrep-1.0115226-turtle.txt
N-Triples: presrep-1.0115226-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: presrep-1.0115226-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

{increasingly and
consciously, the young and future artist today
wishes and needs, like any other intelligent
being, to find his own paths in thought...It is
not simply that he needs to meet scientists,
poets, linguists, historians and others, but that
he needs to get his professional training in a
context in which the ideas of these disciplines
are shaping forces on him as on others. He
needs to go to university."
B.C. Binning, The UBC Alumni Chronicle, Winter, 1965 PwSk
off** "^^■■i
\TTurTs"SeteuaQe r*
\sC*^C»atfl-S5r  LTTTTT'tT-tTTTTT^T'I.^^^^T^^'tTTt^'t^^^^tttt^tttt^T^T^T^T^^t^^T^^t.TTTT^TT^TTTTTT^TTT^TTT^^T^^^^^tTS.T^.'lt.Tt't^STT^Tl
A Long Allegiance   5
A Preview   8
Setting the Scene—The First Fifty Years  13
Act One—77ie Romantic Twenties  14
Act Two—77?e Bootlegging Thirties  15
Act Three—The Explosive Forties  17
Act Four—The Formative Fifties  19
Act Five—The Concrete Sixties   22
School of Music  24
Department of Theatre  36
Fine Arts Department   42
Department of Creative Writing 48
Visual and Performing Arts in Education 54
A New Vision  60 w
Ef W
f \\\\V\\\   ,
I Vh>
<■ W'
Lewrecf os o
masfer jeacfter, AC
pointer Sam B/acfc
was one of the early
studio artists
teaching in the
Faculty of
Education's unique
art division.  XJfr
mong Canadian provinces, British Columbia holds a special attraction for
the creative and performing artist. British Columbians have a passion for
making and appreciating art, a passion that began with the coast's first
inhabitants, whose love of wood-carving, weaving and ceremonials created the richest
and most elaborate of the world's aboriginal cultures. This passion is stimulated today
by the mixture of people assembled and assimilated here from across the nation and
around the world. It finds expression in a physical and cultural environment especially
receptive to the artist.
In this province, the arts—collectively, the fine arts, commercial arts and amateur arts-
are big business. In recent years, British Columbia has had a greater growth in this area
than the country as a whole. Its booming film industry is only one example: in 1988,
19 feature films, nine TV movies, and almost 100 TV-series episodes were filmed here,
bringing $129,600,000 into the economy. And with less than 10 per cent of the Canadian
population, B.C. has 13 per cent of the nation's publicly supported performing arts
In this dynamic artistic environment, UBC plays a role both seminal and supportive.
As the oldest and largest university in the province, we are a crucial component in an
arts education system that includes public schools, provincial institutions, community
colleges, private academies, arts organizations, andB.C.'s two other universities. Keeping
pace with original developments across North America—and sometimes leading the
held—UBC has been teaching creative writing, music, fine arts and drama courses for
more than four decades. We built one of the first and finest teaching theatres in Canada.
Soon we will open a comprehensive and versatile creative and performing arts centre.
For more than three decades, we have been preparing the province's public school art
and music teachers, making decisions in our Faculty of Education that have affected 'At ubc the creative and peforming arts are
not merely an attractive adjunct. they are
an integral part of our multi-faceted
scholarly community?'
the style and content of teaching in the province's schools, and contributing through the
expert advice of our faculty members to the curriculum policy of the Ministry of
Beyond that, we have played a role in creating educated consumers of art. Thousands
of students in many disciplines have taken elective creative and performing arts courses,
adding to the pool of appreciative laymen and skilled amateurs who now support the
arts. In our Centre for Continuing Education, we offer adult education courses in art,
theatre, music, film and creative writing. A fifth of the books published by our UBC Press
are arts-related, and we are the home of PRISM international and Canadian Literature,
two internationally respected journals dealing with creative writing.
As this report establishes, our graduates and faculty members make countless
contributions to the cultural life of the country as writers, musicians, painters, actors,
composers, filmmakers and as publishers, producers, founders of organizations and
members of their boards.
At UBC, the making of art and the study of art began in the wings—as extracurricular
activities or as continuing education courses—before stepping onto the main stage as
academically respectable players. In the process, UBC, like other universities and
colleges, became a patron of the arts and an impresario. Because we wanted art to be
part of the atmosphere here, we've brought the world to our campus—Dylan Thomas,
W. H. Auden, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Igor Stravinsky, the Juilliard String Quartet, the
Peking Opera, the Hosho Noh Japanese Theatre Troupe. Our 10-year-long Festival of
the Contemporary Arts introduced the city to new-wave artists and concepts. Our
Summer School of the Arts was the inspirational forerunner of the Vancouver
International Festival.
Today, having welcomed artists into the academic fold, we support activities that take
them out into the world, giving our concert performers time to travel and Une artists and
writers the security they need to pursue their work. As a further contribution to the arts
economy, we employ numerous part-time lecturers in our credit programs and in
continuing education. In awarding honorary degrees, we have recognized Canadians
1 who have excelled in the arts—those, such as Pierre Berton, who attended UBC, and
others, such as Karen Kain, who did not.
We have always believed that at a university the creative and performing arts must be
taught as a component of a liberal arts education. Our goal is not just the technical
training of practitioners but the development of the intellectual abilities of creative
individuals. We have aimed for a versatile arts graduate—an actor who could become
an artistic director, an opera singer able to do scholarly research. We believe that the
arts and the artist thrive in an academic setting, and that the entire academic
community is enriched by their presence.
Furthermore, we insist that no part of the University stands on its own. At UBC the
creative and performing arts are not merely an attractive adjunct. They are an integral
part of our multi-faceted scholarly community. Because we have a professional theatre,
students of English literature can see performances of plays no longer presented on
public stages. Because we have a computer science department, we are on the leading
edge of film animation. Because we have a studio arts program, civil engineering
students can take courses that may inspire them to build more pleasing bridges.
This report details the activities of the five departments directly involved in the creative
and performing arts. It chronicles the often dramatic history of our long allegiance to
these pursuits, on campus and off. It establishes our pre-eminence as an educator of
artists, musicians, actors, writers and teachers. And it looks forward with renewed vision
to our continuing role as innovator and developer, patron and impresario, educator and
mentor in these arts that so enrich us all.
Dr. David W. Strangway
President, The University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
"the methods of teaching in the studio arts
programs are exciting. when a master
performer is brought in, you notice a
transfer of technique to those who have
observed him. liberal arts graduates ask,
'What school did you go to?' but artists say,
'under whom did you study?'"
Dr. Robert Will Dean of Arts, 1975 to 1989
Early on a July morning in 1988, listeners to the
national CBC FM network heard a concert
featuring the Elmer Iseler Singers and the CBC
Vancouver Orchestra. One item on the program had a
special significance for those who knew that poet Earle
Birney started teaching creative writing at UBC in 1946
and that composer Jean Coulthard joined the faculty of
the Music Department about the same time. Coulthard
had read Dr. Birney's Spring-sprung, joyful "Quebec
May," and when a colleague suggested she compose
something for a CBC choral competition, she set the
poem to music. Forty years later, the country again
heard the result—UBC's unheralded contribution to
the Canada Day celebrations.
When our $31-million creative and performing
arts centre opens on this campus in 1995, it is with the
hope that a future Earle Birney will meet a Jean
Coulthard, and together they will conceive a work of
art. It is with the hope that through proximity and daily
contact, a student painter will acquire an appreciation
of what a violinist must do to master a Beethoven
concerto. It is with the hope that a geography student
will be drawn into the art gallery, there to perceive
continents of the imagination.
Our new centre will enhance and consolidate
what has been a long and special relationship with the
creative and performing arts. As soon as we began
teaching in 1915, our students started making theatre
and performing music. Eventually, ahead of our time,
we introduced credit courses in the creative and
performing arts and then established departments in
music, theatre, fine arts and creative writing. We did so
in the conviction that creating art entailed thinking,
that students could learn by doing as well as by
studying what others had done, and that faculty
members should be advanced on the basis of their
artistic achievements.
Long ago, this University began to dream of a
fine arts centre—a place that would attract students
from all faculties, those who were studying the arts and
those who wanted a chance to appreciate them. In
1965, we dedicated an area in the northwest corner of
the campus to the creative, performing and fine arts,
and named it the Norman MacKenzie Centre for Fine
Arts. The Frederic Wood Theatre, the School of Music
and the Lasserre Building, which houses the Fine Arts
Department, were components of the centre, and we
drafted plans to add an art gallery and a building that
would provide studios and classrooms for all the
creative and performing arts.
Academic Programs
Under Dr. Robert Will, dean of the Faculty of
Arts from 1975 to 1989, new programming in the
creative and performing arts became a priority. Dean
Will obtained government funding for graduate
programs in studio arts, in film and television studies,
in film and television production, and in stage and
screen playwriting. For undergraduates, programs in
acting and in design/technical theatre were added to
our existing Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. And for
students who had already taken undergraduate
degrees in another field, we introduced diplomas in
film and television studies, and in non-fiction and
business writing. In 1988, we began our latest venture
in the arts area—a graduate program for managers of
art galleries, museums and theatres, given in the
Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration in
close association with Faculty of Arts departments.
As our performing and creative arts
departments matured, they faced and overcame
problems unheard of in more scholarly areas. They
learned, for instance, to accommodate internationally
known performers who needed blocks of time to make
concert tours, and sculptors and painters who required
appropriate studios and free days to work on projects
not easily picked up and put down. They accepted new
ways of teaching. In the creative arts, the instructors are the curriculum and much of what is taught springs
from what they are.
Now we are about to realize our long-nurtured
dream of a comprehensive creative and performing
arts centre. In a way that could not have been
anticipated by early planners, this centre will play a
part in the University's changing position in the art
world. In the traditional view of global art and music,
UBC was as far away as a North American school could
be from the scholarly and creative capitals. But today,
as much of the continent turns its face westward to the
Far East, UBC stands on the front line, occupying a
position of prominence in a developing multicultural
artistic and scholarly union with China, Japan, Korea,
India and other Asian nations.
As the leading academic institution in British
Columbia, situated in a city that is Canada's most
important west coast commercial centre, UBC is poised
to be the country's cultural and artistic gateway to and
from the Asia Pacific region. Our existing facilities—
the Asian Centre and the Museum of Anthropology—
already exhibit, preserve and study the artifacts and
the performing arts of those nations. Our program of
Asian studies, in place for more than 30 years, covers
their art and literature as well as their languages,
religions, history, geography and economics. And
within the departments directly concerned with the
teaching of the creative and performing arts, art
historians and musicologists are specializing in the
study of Chinese, Japanese and Indian music and art,
while others are forging links with colleagues across
the Pacific.
Our New Arts Centre
With the opening of our creative and
performing arts centre, we shall have a concert hall
that will become the obvious first port-of-call for Asian
artists setting out on cross-Canada tours. And we shall
have a focal point for student artists, musicians,
creative writers, actors and filmmakers—a built-in
audience of young people eager to forge links with the
East and to understand the wellsprings of cultures in
the Canadian mosaic.
The new concert hall will at last give the
University a performance space with a proper
orchestra pit, a place where opera and dance
productions can be staged. It will seat those larger
audiences that from time to time overfill the Recital
Hall in the School of Music. And it will provide a hall
suitable for lectures, film showings, Convocation and
other formal events.
Moreover, it will create a facility unique in the
Lower Mainland—a medium-sized concert hall with
half the number of seats of the Orpheum and the
Queen Elizabeth Theatre. We anticipate the space will
be used for choral events requiring a degree of
intimacy, for public meetings, lecture series and jazz
and rock concerts.
The art gallery will meet international museum
standards for the security, handling, conservation and
storing of artifacts, allowing us to show travelling
exhibitions that demand climate-controlled facilities. It
will provide a long-awaited home for the University Art
Collection—900 works of art commissioned by or
given to the University. With proper storage and
conservation, we shall be able to accept more gifts of
this nature and to display them appropriately.
The centre will also help lay to rest a local
misconception, which has the University cut off from
the city by its location on the western tip of Point Grey.
The popular myth ignores the thousands of people
who come out to the campus to attend the productions
in the Dorothy Somerset Studio and the Frederic Wood
Theatre, which is virtually unique among Canadian
theatres in selling out its season to subscribers before
the curtain rises on the first production. The myth
ignores the audiences that attend close to 200 yearly
concerts in the Recital Hall of the School of Music, the
The longest-surviving student organization
on campus, AWSSOCu-as formed in 1916
and continues to this day. staging an
elaborate Broadway musical comedy in the
did Auditor/aw evt'ry year. Students of all faculties benefit from the
opportunity UBC gives them to encounter the
arts of many nations and to see great
performing artists, such as the Hosho Noh
Japanese Theatre Troupe.
four annual opera productions in the Old Auditorium,
and the Broadway musical comedy presented by
MUSSOC—the student Musical Theatre Society. And it
ignores those who have supported the Art Gallery
through its long sojourn in the basement of the Main
Library, those who visit the Museum of Anthropology
for its extraordinary collections and its performing arts
events, and those who come to the campus winter and
summer to take courses in the arts given by the Centre
for Continuing Education.
These activities form only part of the
contribution the University makes to the cultural and
artistic life of the community at large. Our faculty
members are authors, poets, playwrights, filmmakers,
composers, concert musicians, sculptors and painters
whose names are more than mere cultural footnotes.
They conduct community musical groups, sit on arts
organization boards, design theatrical performances,
play for the Vancouver Symphony and produce films
and TV series.
Student ensembles in the School of Music
perform in the city and around the province, and on
occasion in Eastern Canada, Europe and the United
States, the tours being funded by their own money-
raising ventures. Acting students in the Theatre
Department work up theatrical performances and
present them in 30 Lower Mainland schools, and film
students make their mark as producers of broadcast-
quality educational or promotional films, which they
undertake on a charitable basis for hospitals, social
agencies and non-profit organizations. Playwrights in
the Creative Writing Department have had their works
performed at Granville Island's Waterfront Theatre as
part of the New Play Centre's Spring Rites, while other
creative writing students conduct workshops in every
Vancouver public high school and at the private
school, York House. Fine arts and anthropology
students work in museums and galleries throughout
the province.
The Alumni Factor
We make an enduring contribution to the
creative and performing arts through our graduates.
Among our alumni are many who have risen to the top
as performers and creators of art: opera singers Judith
Forst and Ben Heppner; composers Barry Truax,
Alexina Louie and Frederick Schipizky; concert
pianists Jon Kimura Parker and Jamie Parker; actors
Goldie Semple and Lome Kennedy; artistic directors
Richard Ouzounian, Larry Lillo and Bill Millerd;
dramatists Dennis Foon, Margaret Hollingsworth, Joan
MacLeod and John Gray; novelists Jack Hodgins and
Audrey Thomas; and poets George Bowering, Dorothy Livesay, Daphne Marlatt, Florence McNeil, Fred Wah,
Lionel Kearns, Gary Geddes and Charles Lillard.
Our theatre grads have with astounding
regularity risen to become artistic directors of
important Canadian theatres and have founded
companies in Toronto, London, Ont., and Vancouver.
All our film students find work in the busy BC. film
industry, and several have been executive producers of
feature films or TV series. Our fine arts grads hold
major curatorial jobs—at the Art Bank of the Canada
Council, the McMichael Collection in Kleinburg, Ont.,
the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Greater
Victoria, the Burnaby Art Gallery and at the Vancouver
Art Gallery, where seven key positions are filled by
UBC alumni. A third of the School of Music's 1,300
alumni are public school or private teachers of music.
Another 25 per cent are performers, academics,
composers or highly specialized music professionals.
Thirty-five play with symphony orchestras, while a
growing number have concert careers. Our award-
winning writers are produced playwrights, published
novelists and poets, founders and editors of magazines,
journalists and magazine contributors. UBC poets have
been included in major anthologies; for example, 10
appear in The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse and 13
in 77ie Poets of Canada. Finally, our grads can be
found on the faculties of Canadian universities and
community colleges from coast to coast.
Any university provides an atmosphere in
which students can learn what they need to learn,
whether that learning takes place in or outside the
lecture hall. At UBC, hundreds of students who will
never work as creative and performing artists take
elective courses in the arts and find themselves
enriched and engaged. Always, we have a few
undergraduates who revise their plans to be political
scientists or lawyers because they've taken an elective
course in one of the arts. And there are those who find
their life's work in what they do for fun—singing in
a Gilbert and Sullivan production or writing for
77ie Ubyssey.
While this report concentrates on the five
creative and performing arts departments, others
contribute to the University's cultural scene through
events they stage, courses they teach, or associations
that link the University and the city.
Art in Science
Our Faculty of Medicine, for instance, has an art
division co-ordinated by one of North America's top
medical illustrators. Our School of Physical Education
and Recreation is responsible for instruction in dance,
which is part of the training of future school teachers.
In the Faculty of Applied Science, engineers are putting
greater emphasis on the study of industrial and
consumer products design. In the Faculty of
Commerce, we have just begun a two-year graduate
Arts Administration program, offered with the cooperation of the Museum of Anthropology, the School
of Music and the departments of Theatre and Fine
Arts. In our Centre for Integrated Computer Systems
Research, researchers are working on computer
animation software that will benefit artists and
filmmakers. And our seven language and literature
departments arrange visits to the campus by creative
writers in English and other languages, while their
faculty members are published poets, novelists and
One is struck, finally, by the multicultural scope
of the arts at UBC. In a typical year, students may
experience African drumming in the Museum of
Anthropology, a Japanese tea ceremony in the Asian
Centre, a play in Spanish, or chamber compositions
performed on traditional Chinese instruments. What
UBC offers year in and year out is a virtual world
festival, a celebration of the arts that cannot be
underestimated as we strive for knowledge of ourselves
and understanding of others.  Prologue
"The Avenue Theatre was filled to the
doors and to the top of its topmost gallery
last evening by an interested and
enthusiastic audience, the occasion being
the first public performance of the
Players' Club of The University of British
Columbia...Rarely has an amateur
performance of so much level merit been
given in Vancouver, and it may be
remarked that the perfect knowledge of
their lines which the young players
evinced was surprising to old playgoers,
and gave abundant evidence of the
arduous work of the stage manager."
-The Province, February 19,1916
Frederic Wood wasn't named when the
Vancouver Province reviewed an evening of
theatrical entertainment by the University
Players' Club in 1916. But we know he was the stage
manager who directed that group of UBC students in
what was to be the first of nearly half a century of
public performances. In fact, Wood was the first of
many professor patrons of the arts at UBC—men and
women who believed that university students ought to
have the chance to act, sing, paint and write, or at least
to be exposed to others who were engaged in those
activities. It was to be several decades before the fine
arts would be regarded as legitimate academic pursuits
at this University, but over the years there were people
like Professor Wood, who set the scene, and faculty
champions whose endeavours laid the foundations for
the five departments that now teach the fine arts.
Frederic Gordon Campbell Wood was the first
B.C. man appointed to the faculty. "The name is
singular," he used to tell students. He was, too. Austere,
witty, sardonic. Tall. "A wand of a man," in the words
of writer George Woodcock. Affectionately and
universally called Freddy, Professor Wood was the bane
of freshmen whom he gleefully intimidated into
dropping out of his courses by pointing a long finger at
them and warning that only so many would pass and
so many others would fail. He made campus news by
ejecting 20 women from his classroom, because they
were attending the men's lectures which were held on
alternate days.
Before joining the faculty, he had been a
graduate student at Harvard, where he had taken a
playwriting course given by George Pierce Baker, the
first American professor to be concerned with live
theatre. He left Harvard in 1914 with a master's degree
and returned to B.C. where he was invited to join the
English Department. In November 1915, six weeks
into the University's first term, he and a group of 40
students formed the Players' Club—the first all-student
drama society in Canada.
The longest surviving student organization on
campus would be the Musical Society—MUSSOC—
which was formed in 1916 and continues to this day.
The organizers—eight orchestral musicians and a few
singers—met with Professor E. H. Russell of the
Mathematics Department, who was their honorary
president and conductor for a few years until he left to
teach at affiliated Victoria College. Under his direction,
the club organized itself into women's
and men's glee clubs and an orchestra
and gave a public performance in the
Hotel Vancouver on March 30,191"i,
in aid of the Red Cross. The Province
reported the event as a success:
"Under the baton of Mr. Russell the
students gave the best that was in
them, and certainly deserve the
unstinted praise which musical
Vancouver accords them."
First B.C. man on the faculty, founder of the
Players' Club, director of 30 major theatrical
productions between 1915 and 1931,
Professor Frederic Wood laid the foundation
for the present Theatre Department. act one-The Romantic Twenties
The young University, temporarily housed
downtown at Fairview in what were always
referred to as The Shacks, emphasized the
development of its science and agriculture faculties.
Drama and music were extracurricular activities and
would remain so for many years. In the Fairview
period, the performances of the Players' Club and
MUSSOC took place in various public theatres, but
with the 1926 move to the permanent location on
Point Grey, a new auditorium (now known as the Old
Auditorium), which Freddy Wood had a hand in
designing, became available.
The socially elite Players' Club grew more
exclusive than a fraternity. Membership was limited to
60 (later 70), but hundreds applied and paid an
audition fee of $1—collected up front to discourage
casual attempts and to provide income. The club had
a reputation as a matrimonial bureau and at least
two notable marriages were made there. In 1926,
Freddy Wood married Beatrice Johnson, a former
student and member of the club. A year later, J. V.
Clyne, whom Freddy had made a leading man on the
condition that he give up boxing, married Betty
Somerset, who soon held the club record for public
performances. Jack Clyne, of course, went on to
become a justice of the Supreme Court of BC. and
chancellor of this University.
In 1920, the Club began its remarkable spring
tour of the province, the only tour of the kind ever
undertaken by a Canadian amateur theatrical group.
Freddy made all the arrangements, and went along as
chaperone. The club got 10 bookings that year, but
very quickly found itself taking its annual production
to as many as 29 towns. In this way, it raised $6,000 for
charities, $5,600 for stage equipment and a war
memorial, and $200 for furnishings for its beloved
headquarters—the traditional Green Room.
The tour had a further effect: it gave people in
the interior of the province their only contact with a
12 Jl
The Players' Club, the first student
organization on campus and the first all-
student drama society in Canada, toured
its spring production to as many as
29B.C. towns, turning over part of the
profits to local sponsors for charity work.
mm-iv j
DtTQCL BQ Ml university they supported with their taxes. For the
most part, the reaction was favourable. In 1926, the
Club toured Pygmalion, the production being a
technical marvel because Freddy insisted that rain fall
in the opening Covent Garden scene. Harry Warren,
who is still an honorary professor of geological science,
played Dr. Pickering and doubled as props manager.
He recalls borrowing 300 feet of garden hose to get
water to the stage in Salmon Arm. But Grand Forks
presented a different problem. As Dr. Warren
remembers it, the mayor was shocked to hear a
university student utter the line, "Not bloody likely."
Supported by a newspaper editor who railed against
guttersnipe language, he banned the club from the
town for many years.
While the Players were touring, MUSSOC was
working up to the challenge of a full-scale production.
In 1925, it had hired a downtown conductor, C Haydn
Williams, as its musical director. In 1926, it broke away
from its choral and orchestral recital format to present
scenes in costume from several Gilbert and Sullivan
operettas. The promoter of that innovation was its
president, Joseph Kania, a musically talented
geological engineering student who wrote Alma Mater,
a song that for 25 years opened each MUSSOC
production. Dr. Kania joined the UBC faculty and is
today an honorary professor.
By 1930, MUSSOC had 80 members-a chorus
of 60 and an orchestra of 20—and was able to produce
a complete work for its 14th annual spring concert,
which launched its Gilbert and Sullivan era. In 1934,
the club acquired an important assistant dramatic
director. Walter Gage, later the University's fifth
president, was admired for his ability to build morale,
dispel stage fright and smooth frayed tempers. In 1952,
MUSSOC introduced Broadway musicals and hired
Vancouver choreographer and director Grace
Macdonald, who worked on almost all of the
productions for the next 33 years.
^f^ arly in the decade, some B.C. businessmen
|H proposed closing the University on the ground
^^that the provincial government could no longer
afford to support it. Students and faculty campaigned
on public platforms against the proposal, which the
government never took seriously, even though it was
forced for several years to reduce the University's grant.
Internally, there was hot debate over the sharing of
these diminishing funds, with President Leonard
Klinck and the Board of Governors attempting to
impose greater economies on the Faculty of Arts and
Science than on the Faculty of Agriculture. The
argument was reflected in the Graduate Chronicle,
which published A Plea for an Arts Course, written by
Dr. Henry Ashton, head of the Modern Languages
Department: "However great may be the cash value of
a study of diarrhoea in fowls, it cannot be compared as
a means of education with the study of a Greek
Tragedy, of Shakespeare peering into the depths of
Life's mystery, of Pascal wrestling with the unknown."
Wood, having directed 30 major productions
and innumerable one-act plays, resigned from the
Players' Club in 1931. For two years, Sydney Risk was
the director. Risk had been a student in Wood's
Techniques of the Drama course, where he had
written Fog which was heard on the BBC in 1934, "a
distinction," wrote Wood, "that he was the first UBC
graduate to enjoy." He would go on to create one of the
unique theatres in Canadian history—Everyman—a
permanent touring repertory company, which travelled
from Victoria to Winnipeg and lasted into the 50s
when it was snuffed out by television.
In 1933, the Players' Club produced an offshoot.
The Players' Club Alumni elected Jack Clyne as its
president and immediately prepared an entry for the
regional competition of the Dominion Drama Festival,
f &y
By 1935, the Players' Club urns attempting
more challenging works. The program for
this 20th anniversary production notes that
in presenting Hedda Gabler for the first time
in western Canada, the Club had taken its
place in the adult theatre. Actress with the Vancouver Little Theatre,
director of Players' Club productions, first
employee of the Extension Department,
Dorothy Somerset (right) ushered the
extracurricular study of theatre at
UBC onto the legitimate academic stage.
which had been launched that year. The following
year, with Dr. Harry Warren as president, the Alumni
players began a policy of presenting a comedy as part
of the graduation ceremonies, and in the war years,
they would entertain
the troops, once
being flown to
Vancouver Island
in a bomber. The
group faithfully
competed    in
the Dominion
Drama Festival,
but not until
1953 was it
able to send
a telegram
to   Freddy
Wood, then
retired and
living   in
i wins regional
— Festival for Players' Club Alumni.
Gratitude and congratulations to our founder. A year
later, the Alumni took The Crucible to Regina and
brought home awards for best director and best supporting actor, and the Calvert Trophy for the best play.
A cheering crowd of University representatives and
alumni greeted the victors at the Vancouver airport,
and the city gave each one a specially minted medal.
In the middle of the 30s, a subtle shift from
performance in drama and music to formal instruction
in both began. The process, repeated in many North
American universities, was to slip the teaching of
theatre and music in the back door—a process that has
been referred to as the bootlegging of the arts. Given
that metaphor, the bootlegger at UBC was the
Department of Extension, formed in 1936, and its chief
agent was Dorothy Somerset.
A sister of Betty Somerset, Dorothy had studied
in the East, getting her AB at Radcliffe College and
acting in the Radcliffe Idlers Club and the Harvard
Dramatic Society. When she returned home, she was
invited to join the Vancouver Little Theatre Association
in its first season in 1921. Freddy Wood was one of the
five founding members of that company of actors,
which he helped to build by supplying it with UBC
graduates who had belonged to the Players' Club. In
the 20s, while she was a Little Theatre leading lady,
Professor Somerset taught French at UBC. Later, after
studying theatre in England, she returned to
Vancouver, one of the more experienced and highly
trained theatre people in the city.
For a time, Somerset accepted professional
engagements—directing the annual productions of the
Players' Club from 1934 to 1938 and acting with the
British Guild Players when they were in town. But her
way of serving theatre was to make it an accepted
academic discipline at the University. In the Spring of
1937, she went to Invermere, BC, to teach a weekend
drama school, the first short course ever offered by the
Department of Extension. That Fall, Dr. Gordon
Shrum, head of the one-year-old Extension
Department, hired her as his first permanent
employee. She set about organizing a Tadio series
called "The University Drama School" which over its
three years would attract as many as 122 registered
listening groups. These groups received copies of one-
act plays to study before tuning in to their radios to
hear criticisms of the plays, talks about the authors and
finally a professional performance. As a furthur aid to
groups wanting to know what plays they might
produce, Somerset drew up an annotated list of 1,500
works available in the University library. By the Fall of
1939, the Extension Bulletin listed as its theatre services the play-lending library, short drama courses,
a correspondence course and evening class in
playwriting, and the radio workshop.
An important step in the development of drama
courses on campus occurred with the establishment of
the Extension Department's Summer School of the
Theatre. First held in 1938, the school met the needs
of amateur groups wanting to enter the Dominion
Drama Festival and of teachers who had to direct
school productions. Well attended from the beginning,
it would continue, with a three-year interruption
during the war, until 1964 when its activities were
merged into the Theatre Department's credit courses.
Music, meanwhile, was tapping its feet in the
wings. In 1936, MUSSOC invited Allard de Ridder,
conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, to
give a series of lectures on "Orchestration and Form."
In 1935, the University acquired a Carnegie
Corporation record set, which it used as the basis of an
Extension Department series of 300 radio broadcasts
of serious music. (At the same time, the Carnegie
Corporation gave the University 1,800 prints and
photographs to be used in the teaching of art.) And in
1937-38, an evening class in music appreciation was
first offered. With its activities in music, art and drama,
the Department was well launched in its aim of
assisting with the cultural development of the
lostve Forties
The Second World War dimmed the lights
everywhere. For a few years the Players' Club
Alumni suspended productions and the Totem,
the student annual, wasn't published because of a
paper shortage. But as soon as peace was declared,
there was an explosion of visual and performing arts
activity in course work and in a variety of extracurricular student clubs.
Undergraduates continued to find diversion—
and sometimes a vocation—in campus clubs. The staff
of The Ubyssey of 1940 provides an excellent example.
The editor of the Tuesday edition of the student
newspaper was Pierre Berton, who confesses to
spending most of his time in the offices of the
Publications Board and never attending lectures on
press days. The Friday editor was a gossip columnist
named Janet Walker, who would marry Berton a few
years later. The newspaper had three outstanding
writers that year: Patrick Keatley, who Berton says
"rose to dizzy heights on the Guardian;"dramatist Eric
Nicol, who launched his career in a column called
"The Mummery," which he wrote under the name
Jabez; and long-time CBC radio and TV writer, frost
and executive Lister Sinclair, who took an honours
degree in mathematics and physics and is remembered
by Berton for playing Iago "with Hitlerian moustache
and forelock."
A later Ubyssey alumnus, Allan Fotheringham,
declared the paper "the best journalism school in the
country," a statement for which there is evidence in the
careers of Bill Gait, one-time managing editor of The
Vancouver Sun; Alex MacGillivray, long-time columnist
for the same paper; Linda Hossie, Latin America
correspondent for The Globe and Mail; Toronto
newspaper reporter Ron Haggart; and CBC
correspondent Joe Schlesinger, among many others.
On the administrative side, when the decade
opened, Leonard Klinck, a professor of agriculture, was
still president, a position he had assumed in 1919. But
before the war ended, the University had installed its
third president—lawyer and Maritimer Norman (Larry)
There were no credit courses in theatre, music
or the fine arts when MacKenzie arrived in 1944. But
by 1946, summer session students were able to get
credit in the English Department for a theatre course
given at the Summer School of the Theatre. In the
The University's Fine Arts Centre is dedicated
to President Norman MacKenzie, under
whom the creative and performing arts
departments were formed. Dressed as a
freshman for the Blue and Gold Revue of
1953, President MacKenzie is flanked by
library head Neal Harlow (left) and
Dean Sperrin Chant. For 12 years violinist Harry Adaskin was
head of the Department of Music, and for
another 15 he remained as a professor. His
wife, Frances Marr, was appointed a lecturer
and together they gave noon-hour concerts
and music appreciation courses that often
had enrolments of 500 students.
1946-47 session, the English Department offered
Theatre 421, a course that dealt with the theory and
the practice of modern theatre, and a year later, it
added the History of the Theatre. At the same time
Senate approved these two courses, funds were
allocated for a student play—thereafter known as the
January production. At last, the fine arts had a toehold
in the formal curriculum.
In 1946, President MacKenzie hired two pivotal
faculty members. Earle Birney had enrolled at UBC in
1922 intending to study engineering. But in his second
year, he happened into one of Dr. Sedgewick's English
courses, and was converted. He graduated with first-
class honours in English and went East, returning to
teach summer school here in the 30s for six years. In
1946, when President MacKenzie asked him to come
back to his Alma Mater, he was a professor at the
University of Toronto and a respected poet. He agreed
to come on one condition—that "1 can have one course
I can believe in, the first stone in a little shelter for the
creative student naked in academia." Dr. Birney got his
course, and UBC became the first Canadian university
to give credit for creative writing.
The other faculty member hired in 1946 was the
acclaimed Toronto violinist Harry Adaskin, whose
appointment was made possible by the generosity of
Robert Fiddes, a successful Vancouver brewer, who
had offered to contribute $5,000 a year for 10 years to
establish a music department.
Having no time to hire faculty, Adaskin decided
in his first year to create a course in Music
■ Appreciation—with his wife playing musical examples
on the piano—a course that he and Frances continued
to give for 27 years. By 1947, Adaskin was chairman of
Music—the first fine arts department on the campus.
He brought in Jean teach theory and
composition, and two years later added Barbara
Pentland. And so, the Department of Music ended the
decade with a faculty of three—two of them ascending
The Summer of 1946 brought another key
player to the campus. The Extension Department had
decided to develop its Summer School of the Theatre
into a Summer School of the Arts, which it launched
with courses in painting, taught by B. C. (Bert) Binning.
Binning already had an international reputation
as a draughtsman and a national reputation as one of
the founders in Vancouver of the Art in Living Group,
whose members were activists in urban and
architectural planning. He arrived on campus just as
the fine arts were being organized, joining the full-time
faculty in September 1949, as an assistant professor of
art and design in the School of Architecture, which had
been formed two years before and for which he had
The head of the School, until his accidental
death in 1961, was Dr. Frederic Lasserre, a Swiss
architect who revered architecture as the mother art.
Lasserre was chairman of a faculty Fine Arts
Committee, which had been formed in 1947 to act as
a clearing house for cultural and fine arts activities. In
the same year, the Museum of Anthropology had been
opened in the basement of the University's library with
Dr. Harry B. Hawthorn and his wife, Audrey, in charge.
Their interest in salvaging totem poles and other
artifacts led to a renaissance of Indian art in BC. A
neighbour in the basement was the University's art
gallery and crafts workshop, opened in 1948, with
funds donated by the University Chapter of the
Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire.
The base had been laid for two very different art
collections on campus, with one man playing a role in
each. As an undergraduate in the 20s, Hunter Lewis
had helped his class establish a collection for the study
and appreciation of painting, and as a professor of
English literature, he had worked with the Vancouver Art Gallery to bring Western Canada Art Circuit
exhibitions onto the campus. It was Professor Lewis
who in 1940 proposed the establishment of a student
art collection, now grown to 58 works of contemporary
Canadian art, and who, as Warden of University Art in
1949, set the terms of reference for the committee that
commissions official portraits and maintains the works
of art given to the University. Among the 900 pieces
now owned by the University are paintings and
drawings by Emily Carr, David Milne, Lawren Harris,
Fred Varley, Jack Shadbolt and Bert Binning. One of
the Binning paintings was part of Professor Lewis' final
gift to his University.
Act Four-The Formative Fifties
The previous decade ended with the leading
players in place: Adaskin conducting the
Department of Music; Somerset serving theatre
from the wings of the English Department; Dr. Birney,
a creative-writing fifth-columnist within the same
department; and Binning, eager to divest the fine arts
of their extracurricular crafts disguise.
From 1951 to 1964, Bert Binning served as the
chairman of the Fine Arts Committee. Together with
the students' Literary and Scientific Executive, the
faculty group initiated many extracurricular events on
campus and promoted the arts in the non-University
community. The LSE directed 67 campus clubs, several
of which were arts or performance-related: the
University Radio Society, the Jazz Society, the
University Symphonic Club, the Film Society, the
Dance Club, the Visual Arts Club, the Camera Club
and the Music Appreciation Club. It was a period of
exploration: the future of television was considered at
a noon-hour panel discussion; a German composer
demonstrated his electronic music; and the Modern
Dance Club gave a performance that included Earle
Birney reading his poetry.
It was also a period in which the University cast
its net on wider cultural waters. In April, 1950,
Professor Hunter Lewis and the Literary and Scientific
Executive arranged the visit of Dylan Thomas.
Composer Jean Coulthard remembers the event. She
and Dr. Birney were given the task of keeping Thomas
away from the bottle for a morning, which they did by
engaging him in an extended tour of the campus. At
noon as planned, the poet read for an audience of
1,200 students packed into the Old Auditorium. Other
illustrious visitors followed: W H. Auden, Theodore
Roethke, Aaron Copland, Stephen Potter, Eero
Saarinen, Marianne Moore, Stephen Spender and Igor
Stravinsky, who visited the Adaskins in their small
home on the campus and sat under a table to eat his
dinner because the place was crammed with excited
guests. Stravinsky's visit was the result of a public
concert of his music that the Adaskins and their
students gave—likely the first all-Stravinsky concert in
the country.
By mid-decade theatre and fine arts courses
were well established in the curriculum, and the next
advance was apparent. Fine Arts made a smooth
transition out of the School of Architecture thanks in
part to Fred Lasserre's support and in part to Binning's
groundwork. From May to September, 1951, Binning
had travelled in the United States and Europe
examining fine arts programs in a variety of
universities. His 1952 report recommended a
department that would combine art historical
scholarship and creative studio work under one
administration. He thought a degree should be given
in what he called technical training and that it should
be the main thrust of any fine arts program. In the
Summer of 1955, he resigned his part-time duties in
the School of Architecture to devote his attention to
fine arts and the establishment of a department. He
was appointed professor of fine arts in 1955 and
chairman of the department when it was formed in
"Today is Good Friday, I am writing this in a
Columbia, Canada, where yesterday I gave
Dylan Thomas to Caitlin Thomas April 7,1950 On August 7,1951,10 minutes before the
curtain was to rise on a Summer School of
the Theatre production, Dean Walter Gage
took Dorothy Somerset over to the old
Totem Coffee Bar and told her it was hers to
convert into a theatre for academic work in
dramatics. The first Frederic Wood Theatre
opened December 6,1952.
1958. The department that Binning presided over until
1968, however, awarded only art history degrees. Not
until he had stepped down as chairman was studio art
introduced as a degree program.
Theatre made similar progress. Through the
efforts of Dean Gage, Dorothy Somerset was given a
space for theatrical productions—the old Totem Coffee
Bar, which had been the hangout of war veterans. It
consisted of two huts set together in the shape of a T.
The kitchen became the stage and the counter the
auditorium. The refurbishing was financed by the
University, alumni, and friends of the Players' Club,
iuqs R.G. Ah****
whom Somerset herself solicited for funds. Lighting
was purchased with a grant from the Leon and Thea
Koerner Foundation, which had already assisted many
performing arts ventures on the campus and would
continue to do so in the coming years. The first
Frederic Wood Theatre opened in December 1952,
with a performance of Earle Birney's Trial of a City, a
satiric fantasy proposing the destruction and
damnation of Vancouver.
For a time the Freddy Wood Theatre was the
only legitimate theatrical outlet in the city. It was
supported, as Somerset recalls, by downtown actors
who were paid only carfare to act in its productions,
and by backstage volunteers such as Jessie
Richardson, of the old Vancouver Little Theatre. It was
here that UBC graduate Joy Coghill started Holiday
Theatre in 1953, making Vancouver the first Canadian
city to have specialized theatre for children. And here
the Players' Club and the Alumni put on annual
performances until 1958.
In mid-decade, Somerset suggested to Dr. Roy
Daniells, head of the English Department, that a
course in the speaking of poetry be given for high
school teachers who had to produce plays but didn't
know how to speak for the stage. When the English
Department curriculum committee turned down her
proposal, Dr. Daniells advised her to apply to Senate
for a separate department of theatre. Her opposition
said that the study of theatre was vocational; her
supporters pointed out that courses in engineering
were equally practical, and Somerset argued that the
playwrights whose works were studied in the English
Department would not have written had there been
no stage on which to present their plays. The decision
came in 1958: a Department of Theatre was created in
which Somerset was appointed an associate professor.
Meanwhile another fine arts enclave had
appeared on the campus. In 1956, the provincial
government closed the Normal School and all teacher- training in the province was undertaken by the
University's Faculty of Education. Music and art
divisions were created within the faculty. The music
division developed along traditional lines, devoting
itself primarily to courses in pedagogy. But in 1955 and
1956 in preparation for the move to the campus, the
BC. Ministry of Education heard proposals from two
University representatives concerning the teaching of
art-techniques courses to future teachers. On the basis
of those proposals, the Ministry decided studio arts
courses for teachers should be conducted in the
Faculty of Education rather than in the Fine Arts
Department. The result was a strong art education
division, unlike any other in North America—a
division staffed by artists such as Gordon Smith and
Sam Black, and equipped to teach the fundamentals of
painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics and fabric
arts. For nearly 25 years the music and art divisions
operated as separate programs, but in 1980 they were
combined as one department—Visual and Performing
Arts in Education.
Creative writing, which began as a single course
within the English Department, ended the decade as
three English Department courses. Playwriting and
Creative Forms for Beginners were added to Dr.
Birney's original course, allowing the Department to
offer a major in creative writing. By the end of the
decade, Dr. Birney and other professors in the
Department had founded PRISM, a publication
devoted to creative writing, and according to Dr.
Birney, then "the only purely literary journal on a
professional level existing in Canada west of Ontario."
English Professor Jan de Bruyn was its first editor.
Also in 1959, the first and still the best-known
scholarly journal devoted to the discussion of Canadian
writing, was founded at the University with George
Woodcock as editor. In recent years, under Dr. William
H. New, Canadian Literature has published reflective
essays on poetry, fiction and the art of translation,
prize-winning scholarly articles and new poetry. Its
25th anniversary edition featured the work of 100 of
Canada's major contemporary writers, many of whom
have connections with UBC.
The Summer School
of the Arts was an
outstanding feature of the
50s. Instruction in vocal
training and opera began
in 1950 under Nicholas
Goldschmidt, who was
musical director of the
opera school at the
Royal Conservatory
of Music in Toronto.
The Summer School,
which attracted as
many as 500 non-
credit students, became one of the best known in
Canada, making UBC unique among Canadian
universities in offering both credit and non-credit
courses in its summer session. Included were classes
in lieder and concert literature, choral singing, piano,
opera, sculpture, painting, ceramics, metal work,
mosaic crafts, photography and theatre. Each Summer
School culminated in a Festival of the Arts, which
offered the public fine arts exhibitions, concerts, an
opera production and a play.
The Summer School of the Arts proved that
Vancouver could support a summer arts festival, and
key people from the University joined others from the
city in founding the celebrated Vancouver International
Festival. One of these was Dean Geoffrey Andrew, who
was deputy to President MacKenzie and a great
supporter of the arts on campus. In 1988, the
University established the Geoffrey and Margaret
Andrew Fellowship in Creative and Performing Arts
to bring young artists in developing countries for a
period of residency at UBC.
Winner of the Order of Canada, the Canada
Council Medal, the Stephen Leacock Award
and two Governor-General's Awards,
Dr. Earle Birney called the Department
of Creative Writing his proudest achievement
at UBC. In the 60s the University built homes for the
creative and performing arts. Fine Arts found
a home with Architecture in the Lasserre
Building. Music acquired its own building
and the Theatre Department moved into the
second Frederic Wood Theatre, shown here
under construction in 1963.
In this decade, the University's support of the fine
arts took physical form. On May 19, 1962, the
Lasserre Building was opened, providing a home
for the School of Architecture, and for the Department
of Fine Arts, which had been working out of offices in
the Fine Arts Gallery in the basement of the Main
Library. September 19,1963 was another gala day for
the University. The second Frederic Wood
Theatre was inaugurated with a
performance attended by Freddy and the
eminent American critic John Mason
Brown among many other distinguished
guests. The 411-seat theatre was much
envied for its excellent acoustics and
stage turntable. The two buildings had
been financed by the Canada Council,
the Province of British Columbia and
the Leon and Thea Koerner
The University was on its way
to realizing the fine arts centre that
had first been proposed by Bert
Binning. Binning had envisaged an arts centrepiece
similar to a city's cultural centre. He hoped to bring all
the arts together, if not under one roof at least in a
group united by architectural theme. With the Lasserre
Building and the theatre in place, President John
Macdonald officially dedicated the Norman MacKenzie
Centre for Fine Arts in 1965. Two years later, the Music
Building was added to the complex.
In other tangible ways the University continued
to foster creative interests. A Poetry Centre, launched
in 1959-60 to provide readings on the campus and
downtown, brought in people like James Reaney and
Pulitzer Prize winner DeWitt Snodgrass, while in 1963
the American poets Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg,
Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley,
and many Canadians came to the campus for what is
now considered to be the major North American
poetry conference of the past 50 years. The University's
Festival of the Contemporary Arts, which was
launched in 1961 by the Fine Arts Committee, would
be held every February until 1971, closing only when
the community at large developed its own celebration.
Finally, in this decade creative writing stepped
out of the English Department. From 1962 to 1965, it
was an independent program with Professor Jake
Zilber as its steward. In 1965, an English Department
committee recommended the formation of a separate
department with novelist Robert Harlow as its head.
Earle Birney, on leave of absence at the time, resigned
from the University in 1966. The shelter that he had
erected for creative writers would grow, as the then
Dean of Arts urged, into an edifice that could be seen
from afar.
In the Summer of 1989, Professor
Emeritus Harry Adaskin was living in
Vancouver. Professor Emerita Dorothy
Somerset, also in Vancouver, was still
giving the occasional talk in the Theatre
Department. Dr. Earle Birney had
survived a stroke and was living in
Bert Binning died on March 17,
1976, followed in the same year, on June
3, by Freddy Wood.
Each one has received the degree
Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, horn
a grateful university.  SCHOOL
"Music is a way of thinking-
Dr. William Benjamin
Director of the School of Music
At some time in the past 15 years, you might
have encountered faculty members of the
School of Music engaged in professional
activities in any number of places around the world.
Lecturing at Suchow University in Taipei, for instance.
Or performing at Lincoln Centre in New York City, at
the Chopin Academy in Warsaw, or the Opera House
in Sydney. Conducting an ensemble of young
Canadian singers in Stuttgart. Studying Chinese music
on cylinder recordings in libraries in Berlin and
Vienna. Leading a seminar at a UNESCO conference in
Tokyo. And reading scholarly papers to the American
Musicological Society in Washington, DC, or to
international symposia in Budapest, Paris, London and
San Francisco.
In Canada in recent years, you might have been
entertained by UBC faculty members performing solo
with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria
Symphony and most of the other major orchestras in
between. You might have heard one in a starring role
with the Canadian Opera Company and another on a
five-part CBC documentary. You might have met one
coaching the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa
and another giving master classes at Mount Royal
College in Calgary. You might have bumped into one
at the University of Toronto addressing an International
Opera Teaching Conference and another teaching viola
at the Banff Summer School of the Arts.
That the School of Music's influence should
have spread so far and should be felt so strongly at
home is perhaps not surprising. Music is, after all, an
art that crosses borders easily, its message understood
in Moscow and Montreal, and appreciated in Kiev and
Courtenay. But these envoys from the School of Music
are not only performers playing the classical repertoire
for the enjoyment of the public. They are also scholars
eminent in fields as diverse as traditional Chinese
music and Renaissance chant; they are composers
known for their contributions to new music and to
computer-aided notation; they are conductors who
have developed and now lead award-winning campus
and community ensembles.
The School of Music has from its beginning
been home to the performance of music and to the
study of music. It has based its program on the belief
that it was not enough for violinists, pianists and
singers to learn to perform well. Its students must be
broadly educated, with a thorough foundation in the
study of music and with a knowledge of the liberal arts.
The faculty committee that met in 1946 to
discuss the establishment of a Chair of Music agreed
that the University needed popular non-credit lectures;
authoritative lectures on the history and theory of
music for credit; and public performances of music that
would benefit the whole university community.
Toronto violinist Harry Adaskin was the
forthright, warm-hearted and talented man chosen to
fill those three needs. For 12 years, Professor Adaskin
was head of what was then the Department of Music,
and for another 15 years he remained as a professor.
His wife, pianist Frances Marr, was appointed a lecturer
after he stepped down as head and together they gave
noon-hour concerts and music appreciation courses
that often had enrolments of 500 students.
By 1958 the University had recognized the need
for music teachers in the province and had hired Dr.
Welton Marquis to initiate a Bachelor of Music
program. In September, 1959, four faculty members
welcomed 27 students into the Old Forest Products
Building. Within three years, 160 students were being
instructed by 10 faculty. More than half these students
planned to be school teachers, while the others aimed
at university teaching and performance careers.
Important builders of the School joined the faculty at
this time. Among them were Emeritus Professors
Hans-Karl Piltz, Elliot Weisgarber and Robert Morris, and three people still on faculty—Assistant Professor
Donald Brown, a voice instructor; Professor Cortland
Hultberg, whose specialities are music theory
instruction and composition; and Associate Professor
Douglas Talney, a conductor.
In 1972, having brought the BMus program to
maturity, Dr, Marquis passed the headship to Dr.
Donald McCorkle, a celebrated Brahms scholar. While
he was head and during a two-year period of interim
leadership, courses in ethnomusicology were added to
the regular curriculum and the graduate program was
Under its fourth head—Dr. Wallace Berry,
appointed in 1978—revisions were made to the
undergraduate curriculum in composition, piano
performance and opera, and new undergraduate
programs were implemented in general studies, music
theory and secondary music education. All graduate
programs leading to the Master of Music, Master of
Arts, Doctor of Musical Arts and Doctor of Philosophy
degrees were revised. A new jazz program with study
in performance and arranging was begun. And for
students of other disciplines, an introductory course in
music theory was introduced.
The School Today
In 1984, the current head, Canadian music
theorist and composer Dr. William Benjamin
succeeded Dr. Berry, who remained on faculty in the
music theory division. In 1986, the Department
officially became the School of Music, a move that
recognized the breadth of its work.
Under Dr. Benjamin, the School has increased
its course offerings, particularly for non-majors, and
developed in several directions: guitar performance,
film composition, jazz and electro-acoustic music. The
string faculty has doubled in size and string enrolment
has increased proportionately with the aid of
undergraduate scholarship resources that have tripled
since 1984. Graduate enrolment in all areas has
mushroomed, growing to more than 60 from 20 a
decade ago. Today, total enrolment is 320, and there
are 29 full-time faculty and 43 part-time lecturers,
covering all performance areas and historical periods.
The School in the Community
A primary thrust in recent years has been in
involvement with the community. A communications
officer, hired by Dr. Benjamin, has assisted him with
many projects, including the development of an
alumni division, the production of School publications
and the establishment three years ago of faculty and
guest concerts, which have had a fivefold increase in
subscribers. Twenty prominent Vancouverites serve on
the Harry and Frances Adaskin Society, which
promotes the School, for example, by giving receptions
and organizing benefit concerts.
Typical of the community events organized in
the past five years was the 1985 celebration of the 25th
anniversary of the BMus. The gala concert in
Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre included faculty
performers, student ensembles—the UBC Symphony
Orchestra, the Wind Symphony, the University Singers
and the UBC Chamber Orchestra—and a famous
graduate, opera star Judith Forst. The gala added about
$50,000 to scholarship endowments that now
generate income of $43,000 a year.
In the same year, the School sponsored a
meeting of the four major North American scholarly
societies in music. The meeting, held to commemorate
the tricentenary of the births of Bach and Handel,
brought 1,200 leading academics to the city.
More recently, the School organized a
challenging piano marathon. For two days and one
evening in 1989, many students and four faculty
members—Jane Coop, Robert Rogers, Rena Sharon
and Robert Silverman—played the piano non-stop at
the Arts Club Theatre on Granville Island. The event
Begun under Dr. Welton Marquis with four
faculty members and 27students, the
Bachelor of Music program celebrated its
25th anniversary in 1985 with a gala concert
in Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre. attracted hundreds of passersby during the day and a
large audience in the evening, raising the School's
profile, inspiring the donation of two grand pianos and
adding substantially to a fund for the purchase of a
piano. In 1989 as well, events at the Vancouver Art
Gallery, the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Point Grey
Secondary School introduced the city to a number of
the School's outstanding students, chosen by rigorous
Music students today take part in at least one
-of 1-1 instrumental and CSbgrad ensembles,
mvtiicti nave regutarty scheduled daytime
rehearsal hours. Their purpose is to provide
pre-professional training and an introduction
to collective music-making.
At its home base on the campus, the School is
always filled with music. Just before 12:30 p.m. on
most week days in the school year, students drift into
the Recital Hall, some carrying brown-bag lunches or
containers of fried rice from the cafeteria near by. They
come to listen to a graduate who has recently won an
international competition; to observe a fellow student
who is giving a recital to fulfil the requirements for a
degree; or to hear one of their teachers perform.
In the evening, the audience in the Recital Hall
is older—usually people from off campus. They are
drawn by faculty stars whose appearances have filled
much larger halls around the world—pianists Robert
Silverman, Jane Coop and Rena Sharon, violinist
Geoffrey Michaels, cellist Eric Wilson, soprano
Alexandra Browning-Moore, trumpeter Martin
Berinbaum, and violist Gerald Stanick. They come to
hear guest artists such as the American violinist, Oscar
Shumsky, and Dutch soprano Elly Ameling. Keen to
learn more about music, they faithfully attend the short
lectures that precede each concert in the faculty series.
On almost 200 occasions from the beginning of
classes in September until the end of term in March or
April, audiences of students, faculty and campus
visitors partake of an astonishing musical feast served
up by the School—often at no charge. The banquet is
rich and various: in 1989, as well as the attractions
mentioned earlier, there were world premieres of a
piano concerto by visiting professor Douglas Finch and
a work for wind ensemble by American composer/
conductor Arthur Weisberg; performances of Mozart's
The Marriage of Figaro; and recitals by outstanding
students—the School's stars of tomorrow.
Student Ensembles
While students are given many opportunities
like this to listen to the widest variety of music, they
must also perform in public. Every student takes part
in at least one of 14 ensembles, which have regularly
scheduled daytime rehearsal hours and, like academic
courses, count for credit. Their purpose is to provide
pre-professional training and an introduction to
collective music-making. Each gives concerts on
campus throughout the school year, several appearing
in the magnificent Great Hall of the Museum of
Anthropology where they can be enjoyed by Museum
The ensembles are both instrumental and
choral, with some focussing on specialized repertoires.
For instance, the Collegium Musicum, directed by Dr.
John Sawyer, re-creates vocal and instrumental works
as they were performed in the medieval, Renaissance
and Baroque periods. At the other end of the scale, the
Contemporary Players, under Professor Stephen
Chatman and Associate Professor Eugene Wilson,
concentrates on student and faculty compositions and works written in this century. The Asian Music
Ensemble, formed by ethnomusicologist Dr. Alan
Thrasher, is one of only a few similar groups in North
America. It plays mainly Chinese orchestral music,
mixing in some Japanese chamber music and African
While all the ensembles perform on campus, a
few tour BC and have ventured into the United States,
eastern Canada and Europe. The 12-voice Chamber
Singers was created with the idea that it could easily
tour and attract attention to the School, as indeed it has
done. It gives concerts in town, especially at Christmas,
has frequently been on the CBC and has joined the
Vancouver Symphony on occasion. For the past 10
years when classes have ended in April, director
Cortland Hultberg has taken the Chamber Singers on
tour around the province and into Alberta—giving
evening concerts for the public and daytime
performances in elementary and secondary schools.
Second only to the Chamber Singers in its
touring program, the 40-voice University Singers,
conducted by Professor James Fankhauser, has won
the CBC National Choral Competition three times and
has twice represented Canada in the BBC's
International Competition, placing second in 1979 and
1987. These competitions are judged from submitted
tapes and so do not require travel, but the choir often
tours BC in order to make prospective students aware
of the School and to give back to the public something
of what it contributes to the University. It has made two
trips outside the province—a 10-day tour in 1987 to
California and a student-organized trip to Austria,
Bavaria, Germany and Luxembourg in 1984.
Every year as part of its community service, the
70-member Symphony Orchestra takes part in a
weekend workshop with the Vancouver Youth
Orchestra. Faculty members offer coaching throughout
a half dozen rehearsals, and a final Sunday afternoon
performance is conducted by a guest, often of the
stature of Kazuyoshi Akiyama. The orchestra is
directed by Professor Gerald Stanick, with Assistant
Professor Geoffrey Michaels serving recently as co-
A similar event is sponsored on campus each
autumn by the Wind Ensemble and the University
Wind Symphony/Community Band, which is a group
open to amateurs from the community and students
and faculty members in other disciplines. During a
weekend workshop, high school band members from
65 schools in the province rehearse with conductor
Professor Martin Berinbaum, listen to other groups
perform, tour the School of Music and give a concert as
the conclusion of the weekend. Three-quarters of the
wind instrument students who eventually come to the
School have attended this High School Honour Band
The Opera Workshop and Theatre has been
part of the School of Music since 1964 when Professor
French Tickner brought it into the curriculum from the
Summer School of the Arts, where it ran for some
years. Tickner's students present two productions on
campus each year—staged scenes in the Fall and a
complete opera in the Spring. In 1989, an ambitious
and successful production of Figaro marked the
ensemble's 25th anniversary.
The remaining ensembles typically give two
concerts a year on campus. The 20-member Chamber
Strings, begun and directed by Professor John Loban,
provides string players with experience supplementary
to the major orchestral program. The repertoire of the
Percussion Ensemble ranges from original works for
percussion written in this century to transcriptions of
Baroque music, and includes jazz, ragtime, and
African, Brazilian and Cuban music. Its director is
Sessional Lecturer John Rudolph, who is principal
percussionist of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
The School's largest choir is the 55-voice Choral Union,
Dr. Robert Silverman Professor of Music directed for many years by Associate Professor James
Schell. For jazz musicians, Sessional Instructor
Frederick Stride directs the Stage Band and its offshoot
the Jazz Quintet.
Academic Programs
For its academic operations, the School is
organized in seven divisions: keyboard, strings, wind,
voice, composition, theory and history. It offers the
Bachelor of Music degree with majors in composition,
music history, music theory, performance (piano,
organ, voice, opera, guitar, and all the standard
orchestral instruments) and in general studies
(including elementary and secondary education
streams.) A Bachelor of Arts degree with a newly
redesigned music major is also offered.
In 1989, 97 applications were received for
graduate study, approximately four for each available
place. Students can do a Master of Music degree in
composition, piano, organ, guitar, voice, orchestral
instruments and opera, while a Doctor of Musical Arts
is offered in all these areas except opera and organ.
The Master of Arts degree may be taken in historical
musicology, ethnomusicology and music theory; PhD
candidates in musicology may specialize in historical
musicology or music theory.
In 1976, the School, awarded the first Doctor of
Musical Arts degree ever given in Canada. It has
produced doctoral graduates in clarinet, trombone,
flute and piano, and it is the only place west of Toronto
where students can do doctoral work in composition.
It has awarded three doctorates in this field and expects
three or four more in the next year.
The seven-member theory division has been
strong for a number of years, and, with the recent
addition of 19th-century music scholar Vera Micznik,
the history division now offers specialists in the
Renaissance, Baroque and romantic periods. The
research projects of the scholars in history and theory
are of international importance. Historian J. Evan
Kreider is one of three editors of a 12-volume collection
of the work of Pierre de la Rue, a composer employed
by the Hapsburg Empire in Brussels in the early
sixteenth century. Dr. Kreider's research involves
authenticating manuscripts from 150 sources in
Europe. Dr. Gregory Butler, an internationally known
Bach scholar, has just published a monograph dealing
with the first printings of a number of the composer's
early works. For the last 10 years ethnomusicologist
Dr. Alan Thrasher's research in East Asian music has
focussed on the instrumental music of Hong Kong and
Taiwan, while a recent interest has been tribal music
in South China. Internationally known music theorist
Dr. Wallace Berry in 1988 had his new book, Structure
and Interpretation in Music, accepted for publication by
Yale University Press.
Electronic Music Studio
Recently, the School has hired a computer
music specialist, who directs its Electronic Music
Studio. Dr. Keith Hamel, a graduate of Harvard, is also
a developer of computer software and a composer
whose works have been performed in Canada and the
U.S. A second recently hired faculty member, Dr. John
Roeder, who earned his doctorate at Yale, uses the
computer in music theory research. They have been
funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada to develop a visually
oriented, highly interactive computer program that will
allow music analysts to produce graphic
representations of musical scores, and have obtained
grants that have allowed the School to update its
Electronic composition began at UBC in 1964.
At that time only the University of Toronto and McGill
in Canada had begun work in electro-acoustic music.
Helped by experts from the community who built
equipment, Professor Hultberg set up a state-of-the-art analogue facility in 1967. In 1986, MIDI (Musical
Instrument Digital Interface) equipment—the type
found in most commercial companies—was installed.
The studio is also equipped with computer
programs for designing sounds and timbres not
available in a real orchestra. Students can, for instance,
flip a sound backwards or splice two sounds back to
The studio has four software packages that allow
composers to print their compositions on a laser
printer. One of them is Dr. Hamel's own program,
which gives composers of contemporary music great
flexibility in creating graphic symbols to insert in their
scores and in altering the way notes are drawn. Other
programs, Dr. Hamel says, are highly automated while
his combines the control of a hand-written score with
the quality of an engraved score.
The electronic studio also has video monitors
and playback equipment for composers of film scores,
whose work is directed by part-time lecturer and
composer Michael Conway Baker. Two courses are
offered in this area—one for music and general
students, and the other for students interested in
scoring for film.
Music Alumni
While not all of the School's 1,300 graduates
make their living in music, many do. Approximately a
third are public school or private teachers of music.
Another 15 per cent are performers, academics,
composers or highly specialized music professionals,
while 10 per cent work in the business side of the
profession as administrators, researchers, producers,
technicians and broadcasters.
The star among the singers is Metropolitan
Opera company member Judith Forst, a student of the
early 60s. A more recent graduate is Ben Heppner, a
member of the Canadian Opera Company chosen in
1988 to make a debut with the Royal Opera of Sweden.
Debra Parker, a graduate in 1982, has been a prize
winner in the CBC Radio Talent Competition and the
important Montreal International Competition.
The School has taught a number of significant
Canadian composers: Barry Truax, on the faculty at
Simon Fraser University; Alexina Louie, winner of the
Canadian Music Council's composer-of-the-year award
in 1986 and composer of the opening fanfare for Expo
86; Frederick Schipizky whose first symphony was
premiered by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in
1985; University of Toronto faculty member Chan Ka
Nin, who has had many commissions from Canadian
orchestras; Howard Bashaw, a second prize winner in
the CBC Young Composer's Competition; and Glenn
Buhr, a faculty member at Wilfred Laurier, who has
had commissions from the Montreal and Toronto
symphony orchestras.
Among piano graduates Jon Kimura Parker is
outstanding, but then so is his brother Jamie, who was
the first place and overall winner in 1983 of the CBC
Talent Competition. Both have received the Canada
Council's $21,800 Virginia P. Moore Award for
advanced study and performance experience. Sharon
Krause, the 1976 first-place piano winner in the CBC
competition, is an accomplished accompanist who has
Electronic music composition began at UBC
in 1964. Today, students compose electro-
acoustic music on the same type of
equipment used by commercial companies,
and print their compositions with computer
software developed at the University. UBC's student ensembles have performed
across the province, in the United States,
eastern Canada and Europe. One of the first
tours, in the early 60s, took the University
Singers and the Madrigal Singers to towns
in the Okanagan Valley.
been working lately with Mstislav Rostropovich, the
famous cellist. Among organists, Patrick Wedd, well
known during his tenure at Christ Church in
Vancouver, is now the conductor of the Tudor Singers
of Montreal.
In 1988, violist Karen Opgenorth took first place
in the American String Teachers Competition and
placed second in the Eckhardt-Gramatte National
Competition for the Performance of Canadian Music,
which was won by UBC grad Lesley Robertson, who
was also a finalist that year in the $10,000 D'Angelo
International Competition in Erie, Penn. In other years,
David Swan and James Parker have taken the first-
place prize in the Eckhardt-Gramatte.
UBC alumni can be found in virtually every
musical field from jazz (Ian McDougall of the Boss
Brass and freelance musicians Tom Keenlyside and
David Pickell) to early music (Peter Hannan, Ray Nurse
and Nan Mackie, all members of the New World
Consort) and from commercial music (Brian Griffiths
and Brian Gibson) to music education (Dennis
Tupman, co-ordinator of performing arts for the
Vancouver School Board and Michael Grice, who has
the same position in Coquitlam).
The School has graduates in the symphony
orchestras in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Quebec
City, Barcelona and Taipei, as well as in the National
Arts Centre Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony,
where seven players are UBC grads.
Music grads are doing outstanding academic
work—at the Banff School of Fine Arts, Queen's,
McMaster, Laval, Wilfred Laurier, and the universities
of Western Ontario, Windsor, Manitoba, Calgary and
As it enters the 90s, the School retains a strong
commitment to its liberal arts education base. At the
same time, its scholars wholeheartedly support the
emphasis on performance.
The School has a heavier requirement of
academic courses than most U.S. schools and one of
the highest in Canada. As well as studying theory and
history, UBC students have to compose, arrange and
orchestrate music, and learn to play some piano. They
must be aware of the appropriate approach to the
music of various periods, based on what is known
about the period. "It's a question of broadening them
and making sure they are not able to do just one
thing," says Dr. Benjamin. "I fear society is beginning
to think of music education as the training of prodigies
and virtuosos, which is not intellectual and not
developing the whole person at all. Music requires
training in abstract thinking, including quasi-
mathematical abstract thinking. It requires fine
discrimination—learning how to be precise mentally
and physically. It requires physical strength and
emotional openness and an ability to co-operate and
interact with others." H
L/r. Aei'r/i //ame/, in
charge of the School
of Music's electronic
music studio, has
developed a
software program
for the notation of
modern music.
•, -  i
T, KJneof
performers in the
School of Music,
concert pianist
Robert Silverman
has been on the
faculty for 15 years
and has given
recitals around
the world.
■ ' "■ ■ ■    .
i^HmvWBHBSHV^v11                       -
— '
m.  ^jJr
ith the hiring
of set designer
Robert Gardiner, the
Theatre Department
has revitalized its
programs in design
and technical
theatre. .tf\»* . DEPARTMENT
Dr. Errol Durbach Head of Theatre
In his four years as the Canada Council's acting
heas for English theatre, Jeremy Long had an
AVETview of theatre in Canada. From Ottawa,
Long could look east and west and see a chain of
directors and actors in the country's upper theatrical
echelons—all UBC grads. "There is a recognized aspect
to the Canadian theatre scene," he says, "that is known
as the UBC Mafia. A great element of the theatre in this
country is formed of people who graduated from UBC
in the late 60s to mid 70s. The UBC influence is
pervasive in English-Canadian theatre."
Long attended UBC with Richard Ouzounian,
who has been associated with Vancouver's Playhouse,
Edmonton's Citadel, Winnipeg's Manitoba Theatre
Centre, Toronto's Centre Stage and Halifax's Neptune
Theatre, where until recently he presided as artistic
director. Long was there, too, with John Gray, who
would write Billy Bishop Goes to War, Rock and Roll,
and recently Health, The Musical. His classmates
included Larry Lillo, a Dora Mavor Moore award-
winning director; Wayne Fipke, until 1988 general
manager of the Citadel in Edmonton; and well-known
actors Eric Peterson, Lome Kennedy, Goldie Semple,
Suzie Payne and Stephen E. Miller.
Long and his fellow UBC students were part of
an early 70s expansion in Canadian theatre. In
Vancouver, groups of UBC alumni—some students of
theatre and others of creative writing—formed
innovative theatrical companies: Tamahnous,
Touchstone and Green Thumb, which are still
operating, and City Stage, which closed in 1986. A
subsequent wave of theatre and creative writing
students set up Kitsilano Theatre, Headlines Theatre,
Theatresports, Theatre at Large, Dark Horse Theatre
Collective and Sea Theatre. In all, 10 companies
operating in Vancouver today—including the New Play
Centre, which was an initiative of Dr. Douglas Bankson
of the Department of Creative Writing—were started by
UBC alumni. Furthermore, the city's best-known
theatres are under the artistic direction of UBC
graduates: Larry Lillo at The Vancouver Playhouse and
Bill Millerd at the Arts Club Theatre.
As the film industry became established in the
province, UBC theatre alumni moved into and up
through the ranks of the major production companies.
Today they can be found in senior positions-
producers and directors, production and location
managers, sound editors and camera operators—on TV
series such as Beachcombers, 21 Jump Street and
MacGyver and on feature films such as Cousins and
77ie Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick. The film
division's students are in great demand, often being
lured into jobs before they finish their degrees. Dr.
Joan Reynertson, who established the division in 1970,
says, "I doubt if you could mount a film crew here in
BC without one of our grads being on it."
The Frederic Wood Theatre
Except for its film division, the Department is
housed in the Frederic Wood Theatre building.
Vancouver has always had the same affection for this
small theatre as have the students and professors who
have struggled, prospered and sometimes died (in the
theatrical sense) there. The building was opened in
1963, the same year the city acquired the Vancouver
Playhouse. Impressive for its time—the stage turntable
was the envy of many professional theatres—the
building is still praised. Canadian critic Brian Arnott,
writing in Contemporary Canadian Theatre, says most
educational institutions have built poor theatre
buildings. "One of the few exceptions is the Frederic
Wood Theatre... [which] closely resembles a
professional resident theatre facility in every respect
save its modest 420 seats."
At the time the theatre opened, the University
announced the creation of the Frederic Wood Theatre
Foundation, a permanent endowment to enhance the
artistic merit of the theatre's productions. The University itself, the Alumni Association, patrons of the
old Frederic Wood Theatre and friends of the
University contributed to it, with substantial gifts added
later by Mrs. Wood and Dr. Honor Kidd Timbers, who
was in the Faculty of Medicine.
In the early days, because the theatre's function
was to allow students to see plays from the classical
repertoire, professional actors were used. Gradually,
student actors were introduced into the casts, until with
the implementation of the BFA acting degree, all parts
were taken by students. The season's offerings are still
chosen with the curriculum of other departments in
mind, and with the idea that students must be given a
chance to see plays that are no longer done in
commercial theatres.
The Frederic Wood also contains classrooms,
small faculty offices (some of which used to be broom
closets), a scenery shop, a stage design studio, a
wardrobe room and the fabled Green Room—a
sanctuary for generations of overwrought undergrads.
From the time classes begin in September until
they end in March, students perform in five full-length
plays presented to the public on the main stage. In the
Dorothy Somerset studio in the back of the building,
there are two full-length productions and a dozen one-
act plays. As a result, rehearsals are always in progress
somewhere in the building. Clusters of students
practise where they can find space—in the lobby,
perhaps, or outside when the weather is fine. Sets are
hammered together on the stage, and costumes are
fitted and sewn in the wardrobe department. All this
activity creates a decidedly theatrical ambience for
what is philosophically an academic enterprise.
The Department believes that the study of
theatre and film has to involve a balance between
academic and practical work. For that reason, training
in acting, directing, design, technical stage
management and the production of films is combined
with the scholarly study of the history of theatre and
film and the analysis of drama and film.
Dr. Errol Durbach, the current head, came to
Theatre by way of the English Department where he
still gives one course. He lectures in the history of
modern theatre and has published a book and
scholarly papers on Ibsen, his current focus being a
comparative study of Ibsen and Shakespeare. He
oversees 17 full-time instructors and one part-time
lecturer and runs a department that has four
divisions—academic, acting, film and technical/
design. Although more than 100 undergraduates enrol
as majors in theatre, and some general courses are
open to all students at the University, the Department
is able to take in only a small group of specializing
students. Twelve a year are admitted to the BFA
program in acting, 12 to the BFA in design and
technical theatre, and 12 to the BA in film. Competition
for these positions is keen; acting students must
audition, and design and film students must present a
portfolio of their work.
Like other academic departments, the Theatre
Department turns out its share of graduates who will
go on to university or college teaching careers. (It has
recently granted two doctoral degrees and is
supervising a third candidate.) Graduate students can
earn an MA or PhD in theatre history, criticism or
theory; an MA in the history, criticism or theory of film
and TV; an MFA in stage and screen writing given in
conjunction with the Department of Creative Writing;
or an MFA in directing, film production or design.
Students with an undergraduate degree in any field
can also enrol in a two-year diploma course in film and
television studies.
While the size of the academic graduate
group—the MA and PhD students—depends on the
number of good candidates, no more than two MFA
directing students can be accommodated in each year
of the degree, enrolment being limited by the number
of plays that can be produced in the existing facilities.
"if you are a theatre person, you create
theatre, and you serve the theatre. i think
theatre is very closely aligned to religion
in the most profound emotional and
psychological sense. it's the striving for
perfection-the agony and the ecstasy.
That is my greatest wish for you-that you
may have a moment of agony and of ecstasy"
Dorothy Somerset talking to Theatre
Department students, February, 1988 Instructed by costume designer Mara
Gottler, graduate students in the Theatre
Department's Master of Fine Arts program
create the costumes for one Frederic Wood
Theatre production and write a defence of
their work to earn their degree.
Directing students are supervised by Dr. John
Brockington, for 22 years head of the Department, and
by Dr. Klaus Strassmann, who has directed
productions abroad, in the-city and at the University.
The Acting Program
In acting, the Department offers only an
undergraduate program. Having met the audition
requirements, acting students enter in their second
university year. For the next three years, they
undertake a heavy loadDf academic and practical
courses, as well as assuming roles in Frederic Wood
Theatre productions.
No academic concessions are made to BFA
students, who write the same essays and tests as BA
students. Dr. Durbach says, "It has to be stressed that
some of the top students in my academic classes are
BFA acting students. The idea that an acting student is
not interested in academic work or is not bright is
simply not true."
The faculty members who teach acting are all
experienced professionals. They are Associate
Professor Charles Siegel, who has acted professionally
on Broadway and has directed plays in New York and
Vancouver; Associate Professor Arne Zaslove, who has
also directed in Canada and the U.S. and is artistic
director of the Bathhouse Theater in Seattle; Assistant
Professor Rod Menzies, who trained at the Bristol Old
Vic and York, and has directed at the Vancouver East
Cultural Centre; Assistant Professor Stephen Malloy,
newly arrived from the University of Ottawa; and longtime Freddy Wood director, Dr. Brockington. They are
assisted by Sessional Lecturer Kathleen Weiss, a
Theatre Department graduate and until recently artistic
director of Tamahnous Theatre in Vancouver.
The Department now competes with many
colleges and universities for talented acting students.
It holds auditions in other cities—going as far afield as
Toronto, but more often visiting Edmonton and
Calgary. Dr. Durbach says, "I think our acting people
feel that to offer our students a trans-Canadian body of
students would be enriching for everybody. The
students we have attracted from the East have been
very good in sharing a Canadian view of things with
BC students."
At issue for local students is the value of a
conservatory training, which may lead directly to work
in the professional theatre, against an academic
education, which may have to be followed by training
in a drama school. Dr. Durbach recognizes that the
issue is controversial, but in the University's favour, he
says, is the proven versatility of the Department's
graduates: "Our students seem to have started out as
actors and expanded into artistic directors. That's the
route. They do a bit of acting, a bit of directing, get their education, cut their teeth in a small company and
slowly move into the world of big theatre. The people
we claim as our stars in this Department are those who
have built on their education.
"Whenever we have guest directors, I ask what
sort of an actor they want. They inevitably say a
sophisticated and intelligent student, who can read a
play and understand it, who knows the basic
techniques of theatrical analysis, somebody who is
intellectually bright and sprightly. They would choose
the university-trained student in preference to the
Stage and Costume Design
For a number of years, the Department was
unable to offer instruction in stage and costume design
because it did not have professional instructors. Now
with the hiring of two assistant professors—set
designer Robert Gardiner and costume designer Mara
Gottler—the graduate curriculum has been revamped
and the undergraduate courses have been made more
challenging. Both Gottler and Gardiner are active in
off-campus theatre work, Gottler having recently
designed costumes for Vancouver's Coconut Theatre
and Gardiner undertaking a half-dozen outside
commissions a year, including designing sets for the
Tacoma Opera Company.
The MFA program in design and technical
theatre takes in a maximum of four students each year.
Graduate design students must create the sets or
costumes of one Frederic Wood production and write
a defence of their work. "That seems to me to be the
most progressive thing that has happened in this
Department for five or six years," says Dr. Durbach.
The impact has been immediate; three graduate design
students were hired in the Summer of 1988 to work at
the Banff Centre of the Fine Arts. "That's unprecedented," says Bob Gardiner. "They have never taken
three students from one school before."
The Department's technical division includes
Senior Instructor lan Pratt, who has served as the
Technical Director for the Frederic Wood Theatre and
the Vancouver Children's Festival; technical theatre
specialist Bob Eberle, production manager of the
Frederic Wood and the Children's Festival; and
Assistant Professor Norman Young, who has produced
plays at the Frederic Wood for more than 20 years and
has served the professional community as a member
of the Canada Council and as the chairman of the Civic
Theatres Board.
The Film Division
The film division occupies space in Brock
Hall—one large all-purpose, over-worked classroom,
small editing rooms and a technical studio. It offers
undergraduate and graduate programs, and a two-year
post-degree diploma course. In all there are 30 students
in the three streams, the number being limited by
space and equipment rather than by a lack of
applications, which come from people in about 50
nations. Money from the provincial Fund for
Excellence in Education has been used to purchase a
state-of-the-art, computerized 16-mm Arriflex SR
camera and a Super VHS video production package,
which will allow students to produce TV programs to
broadcast standard. These purchases mean that UBC
students will be using better equipment than many
Students are accepted purely on the basis of
talent; they must establish evidence of their creative
ability in the form of a film or videotape. They are
taught by faculty members who continue to work in
the industry as producers and directors in film and TV:
assistant professors Raymond Hall, John Newton,
Christopher Gallagher and John Wright. Film history
is taught by Assistant Professor Brian Mcllroy, recently
hired from the University of Manitoba.
In recent years, the focus in the division shifted "A tiny theatre on the campus of
The University of British Columbia continues
to provide our best and most stimulating
theatrical experiences."
Saturday Night, June, 1962, commenting on
the Frederic Wood Theatre.
to the making of films. (Students produced educational
and promotional broadcast-quality films on contract for
charitable organizations such as the Red Cross and the
Mental Patients Association.) But an overhaul of the
courses has restored the emphasis to the academic
intent of the program. "We think it is more appropriate
to have graduates who are competent as directors,
producers and writers. We are going to demand more
rigorous analysis and investigation and more written
reports," says Hall.
In the way it combines practice and theory, the
Theatre Department is a model familiar in North
America but foreign to Europe where historians study
at universities while performers learn in
conservatories. North American universities have long
recognized the value of bringing living theatre into the
academic fold, and they have accepted the idea that
academic promotion for faculty can be based on their
participation in the production of plays.
At UBC, three of the five mainstage play
productions are directed by a faculty member, while
other faculty members design the costumes and sets
for some of the productions. Because of the long hours,
faculty must give up or suspend scholarly research.
Norman Young, who has been teaching in the
Department since the 60s, makes the case for
performance as publication: "The amount of time you
put into directing a show is not just in the rehearsal
time—it's in the research you do on the play and the
characters. You not only analyze the play from the
literary point of view, but you have to present it as what
it is—a work of performance art."
The Department's two publishing theatre
scholars—Dr. Durbach and Dr. Peter Loeffler—agree
that performance is the equivalent of publication. Dr.
Loeffler compares seeing an intelligently directed play
to reading an insightful book. He recalls a Frederic
Wood production of Pinter's No Man's Land, directed
by Dr. Brockington. "It's a very difficult, complex,
clustered play. The production suddenly made it
crystal-clear. It was like the beautiful logic of
As a scholar, Dr. Durbach is delighted when
theatre practitioners find his writings relevant to their
work. Recently he shared his ideas and papers about
South African playwright Athol Fugard with a Toronto
director. It was apparent that the interchange formed
a foundation for the director's production. "For once in
my life," he says, "it seemed to me that purely
academic work was rubbing off in theatre practice."  FINE
B.C. Binning First Head of Fine Arts
WI i B. C. Binning visited European,
American and Canadian universities in the
Summer of 1951, he was gathering
information on which to base the formation of a fine
arts department at the University. In Europe he found
a bifurcated system: scholarship was the province of
universities, while training in studio art took place in
academies. Some U.S. universities, long established on
the Atlantic seaboard, had modelled their fine arts
departments on the European tradition. But in the
mid-west, at the universities of Iowa, Minnesota,
Chicago and Illinois, he encountered an enticing new
model: art scholarship and the training of artists had
been combined in a single curriculum.
"Thus," he wrote, "for the first time, the
university has closed the gap dividing scholarship and
professional training. It now bears the responsibility of
the complete education of the artist, educated not only
as a creative individual free to express himself in
society, but also to understand the nature of his society
and his new position within it."
What Binning wanted for UBC was a fine arts
department that combined scholarship and studio arts
under one administration. His vision was
encompassing: he recommended that teaching in a
fine arts department cover not just painting and
sculpture, but the other visual arts of architecture,
industrial design, town and regional planning
and landscape architecture.
The fine arts romance Binning observed in
America in the early 50s often didn't blossom into
marriage. Later studies, notably one of 35 U.S. colleges
published in 1970, reported that while art history and
studio art were indeed taught at these institutions, they
were most often found in separate departments. More
recent observers have pronounced art historians and
studio artists incompatible and have recommended
their separation.
So, when Dr. James Caswell comments that the
Fine Arts Department at UBC is a collegial department,
he isn't making a casual observation. Dr. Caswell is
head of a department that combines art historians,
who follow the intellectual pursuits of scholars, with
artist-teachers, who can be found in studios and
workshops creating in a variety of media. While several
of these studio artists have art history degrees, they
have in common an interest in issues, an interest they
share with their art-historian colleagues. "The studio
artists and the art historians here talk to one another,"
says Dr. Caswell. "The dialogue that exists is very real."
The dialogue began with Bert Binning. An ideal
spokesman for the once academically suspect fine arts,
Binning was an artist and an architect manque, an
orderly thinker, a fine administrator and a
communicator. He taught art history at the University,
and painted—controlled, balanced, joyful paintings.
His monumental canvas, Ships in a Classical Calm,
hangs in the National Gallery of Canada; his blue and
green mosaic of flag-bedecked boats still adorns the
B.C. Hydro building in Vancouver, while another
downtown mural was recently saved from demolition
and will be reconstructed in the new creative and
performing arts centre on campus.
In 1958, Binning was appointed head of a Fine
Arts Department, which had two faculty members, four
courses and an enrolment of 200 students. The
Department grew in a satisfying way: 360 students, 10
courses and four instructors in its second year; a
graduate program established in 1960; and in 1962,
400 undergraduates, 12 honours students, 42 majors in
the BA program, several graduate students, and its first
MA given. In 1968 when Binning retired as head, there
were eight full-time faculty members and four part-time
lecturers. A year later, with Binning still in the
Department as a professor, the BFA program, which
had been approved for some time, got under way.
The Department's second head, who took over
in 1970, was Dr. George Knox, the ranking expert on the 18th-century Venetian painter Giovanni Battista
Tiepolo. Knox's mandate was to strengthen art history,
which he did by organizing it into seven areas and
hiring two people in each. He then built up the MA
program, taking in about 10 to 12 students a year. The
PhD program, which was drafted in Knox's headship,
enrolled its first student in 1983.
On the studio side, the BFA program began with
five faculty appointments. It was kept small—with only
30 students admitted into each year. In the process of
developing an MFA, Knox schematized the studio
program, putting two faculty members in each of four
areas—sculpture, painting, printmaking and mixed
media. When the MFA began in 1980, it, too, was
limited in numbers, to six students.
Most of the artists hired to teach in this period
remain on the faculty. Associate Professor Richard
Prince and Professor Geoffrey Smedley formed a
sculpture school; Professor Roy Kiyooka and Associate
Professor Herb Gilbert were the mixed-media people;
Assistant Professor Judith Williams and Associate
Professor Robert Young taught painting, and Associate
Professor Barbara Sungur and Assistant Professor
Wendy Dobereiner printmaking.
With the retirement in 1987 of Herb Gilbert,
photographer Jeff Wall returned to teach at his Alma
Mater. Printmaker Robert Steele joined the
Department from the Faculty of Education in 1988
after a new program, the BA in Studio Arts, was
introduced. This program was developed to meet the
needs of future secondary school teachers, but others
(such as would-be architects) have also found it
The Department's third and current head took
over in 1979. Dr. Caswell is also an art historian. His
field is Chinese art, and he recently published a book
on Chinese Buddhist sculpture—Written and
Unwritten: A New History of the Buddhist Caves at
Yungang. The Department was at its peak in size in
1980, just after Dr. Caswell became head. But within
a very few years, seven faculty members retired or
resigned and several positions were left vacant because
of the economic crunch. Having acquired four new
people in 1987-88, it now has a total of 11 art historians
and nine studio teachers.
Research in Art History
The research interests of Dr. Caswell's art-
historian colleagues include Maya and Aztec art and
ritual (Dr. Marvin Cohodas); 19th- and 20th-century art
(Dr. Serge Guilbaut); 18th- and 19th-century European
and North American art and architecture (Dr. Rhodri
Windsor Liscombe); early Medieval art and pre-Islamic
Indian art (Dr. Mary Morehart); Italian Renaissance
sculpture and the sculpture and architecture of 15th-
century Venice (Dr. Debra Pincus); Far Eastern
Buddhist painting and Japanese art (Dr. Moritaka
Matsumoto); 19th-century French art and criticism (Dr.
Maureen Ryan); Renaissance and Baroque art (Dr.
Rose Marie San Juan); 20th-century and Canadian art
(Assistant Professor John O'Brian); and Romanesque
and Gothic architecture (Senior Instructor Marc Pessin).
"We are probably the only department in
Canada," Dr. Caswell says, "that can be said to be
strong on all fronts, including Asian art and native art.
The only glaring omission is that we have no one in
the Northwest Coast area at present."
Testifying to its international reputation,
applications to the Department's graduate program
come from far afield. It has approximately 27 MA, nine
PhD and nine MFA students. For eight years now,
these students have held a Fine Arts Graduate
Symposium, at which a number of papers are given
and discussed in one day. The UBC students received
funding from several sources to invite two speakers
from other universities, a move that will enhance a
reputation already established by the participation of
UBC graduate students in other year-end conferences.
B.C. Binning, first head of Fine Arts, sketched
himself and wrote a credo in 1950 just after
he joined the School of Architecture:
"I believe that the primary purpose of all
the arts—including painting—is to add to
the interpretation and completeness of life." CLOUD FLOWERS
;^--^-r r^Bne Arts Gallery
Displayed aUhe UBC   <^81
May6 rt;CrN^----^
[a programs supported^thfN    __   .
Opened in December, 1948, in the basement
of the Main Library, and supported for many
years by the IODE, the Fine Arts Gallery has
mounted pace-setting and space-defying
exhibitions under directors Alvin Balkind
and Glenn Allison.
For six years, at least one UBC graduate student has
been invited to read a paper at UCLA, while in 1988
two of six speakers there were from UBC.
Fine Arts Gallery
An important facet of the Department has been
its operation of the Fine Arts Gallery. Opened in 1948
in the basement of the Main Library, the gallery was a
long-time project of the University Chapter of the
Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, which raised
the funds to transform the basement space, and well
into the 60s helped to finance art shows there.
The gallery's first full-time curator, Alvin
Balkind, came in 1962 and began to organize pace-
setting exhibitions. Art Becomes Reality gave the city
its first look at American Pop stars such as Robert
Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Japanese Culinary
Pop a display of the now-familiar plastic models of food
broke all records for bookings when it was toured by
the Extension Section of the National Gallery.
Glenn Allison, a UBC art history grad took over
the gallery in 1976 and resigned in 1988. Despite
increasing costs, he mounted or brought in seven
shows a year. His triumph was not only in
circumventing the low-ceilinged space, but in inviting
artists to use it as an inspiration for installation art.
UBC graduate Scott Watson, who is highly regarded in
the field, became the curator in 1989.
Art History Today
Today, art historians at UBC are prominently
engaged in a revolution that has overtaken the world
of art scholarship in recent years. On the one hand are
the revisionists—the so-called new art historians. On
the other hand are some historians more concerned
with classification, style, subject matter and historical
Art history of the latter kind embraces
connoisseurship—the judging of an object's esthetic
merits and its derivation from an esthetic tradition.
New art history studies a work of art in its economic,
social and political context. "It is," says Dr. Caswell,
"what historians properly do—probe beneath the
surface of things. 1 think connoisseurship is a part of art
history and always should be. But it's fair to say in this
Department there is a concern for asking not the
'what' questions but the 'why' questions."
The commitment to issues makes for a lively
atmosphere in what could be a fusty discipline. In
1987, 77ie New York Times Magazine, writing about
art history revisionists, named the three "controversial
Young Turks'—one of them UBC's Serge Guilbaut.
Dr. Guilbaut has taught at UBC since 1978 and has
been instrumental in bringing the Department to
international attention. His three conferences held
at the University—Modernism and Modernity (1981),
Hot Paint for Cold War (1986) and 77ie Triumph of
Pessimism (1987)—not only attracted eminent scholars
from this continent and Europe, but also drew into
them historians, political scientists and sociologists.
In 1983, Dr. Guilbaut published a controversial
book on abstract expressionism. Thomas Bender,
University Professor of the Humanities at New York
University, reviewed How New York Stole the Idea of
Modern Art in 77ie New York Times Book Review,
saying that its significance was twofold: "It is a
provocative interpretation of the political and cultural
history of the early cold war years, and it is a challenge
to the way art history has been written, particularly in
this country."
Dr. Guilbaut is also concerned with the way
Canadian art history is being written, and he stresses
UBC's role in creating art scholars who will write from
a Canadian context: "It's important not to let other
people—a Frenchman like myself—say what Canadian
art is about. It's important to create students who can
make an analysis of our own culture in a critical way.
To do this you have to have a mind that does not accept things the way they are. That's why this place is
becoming one of the best in Canada and a strongpoint
in North America."
Dr. Debra Pincus is another faculty member
who has done work in connoisseurship but leans
towards the new-art-history approach. Her particular
field is the political imagery of the Italian Renaissance.
She has been studying the tombs of the doges as a
means of revealing stages in the development and
structure of the government of Venice. As do her
colleagues, she believes strongly in the importance of
international contacts. "Scholarship is not a closed
thing," she says. "It's very dynamic. One of the things
that is good about UBC is that our faculty is very active
outside the University, active in conferences,
participating in the world of scholarship, and that
means they are in contact with the latest ideas. They
are constantly rethinking, refreshing their response to
the discipline."
The Studio Artists
As a teacher of painting, Associate Professor
Robert Young balances on a seesaw of intellect and
intuition. Because intellect is dominant in our culture
and in universities, he finds himself stressing the
intuitive, emotional aspects of painting. "I believe that
a painting should be basically intuitive, non-verbal and
done with feeling." At the same time, he says, painting
is intellectual, and he believes that students have to
learn to speak and write to justify what they do and
examine seriously what other people are doing. "I
think the spirit of inquiry is more intense here. It's not
taken for granted that it's okay to make a painting. For
example, you can paint a landscape, but in 1989 you
have to locate yourself in the tradition of landscape
painting. You can't take the same view as you could in
1889, because the landscape is threatened. In your
painting you have to demonstrate your stance with
regard to landscape painting."
For Associate Professor Richard Prince, UBC is
a reservoir of knowledge and technical expertise.
Prince, a sculptor whose large, moving assemblage
work "A Miracle Play—The Alchemy of Invention" was
featured in the Canada Pavilion at Expo 86, is an art
history graduate of the Fine Arts Department. He has
had one-man shows in Vancouver, Toronto, Hamilton
and most recently in Rome.
Prince places himself among those artists who
have an interest in the academic basis of things and
who gravitate to a university to be able to share ideas
with people from many disciplines. He relishes the fact
that at lunch at the Faculty Club, he may sit down with
someone who is an expert in fifth-century Roman
government practice, or that he can consult with
engineers and chemists to solve problems in building
his technically complex sculptures. He may send his
students to a geologist to learn how to slice rocks, and
he sees science and engineering students, who take art
as an elective, acquiring a visual literacy that enhances
their performance in their own fields.
The Department's newest artist is Associate
Professor Jeff Wall. In 1982 and 1987, he was invited to
show his huge backlit photographs at Documenta, the
controversial exhibition of contemporary art held in
West Germany every five years. His work has been
shown at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, at London's
Institute of Contemporary Arts and at the Stedelijk
Museum in Amsterdam. He, too, attended UBC,
receiving an MA in art history in 1970.
Wall's goal as a teacher at UBC is to maintain
the freedom for people to create in their own style and
to make sure his students deal quite rigorously with
the kinds of intellectual issues inherent in art. "One of
the reasons people don't understand why the arts
should be at a university is they don't understand that
they are making culture themselves. They see that they
are doing science or history, but don't see that they are
producing representations. What their representations
"ultimately, 1 think, there's no difference
between science and art. the creative
aspects of both come from the same source.
People who are really creative perceive or
comprehend from the same source."
Robert Young Associate Professor of Fine Arts Three and a half decades into its history, the
Department has not wandered far from B. C. Binning's
commitment to the complete education of the artist. It
may function in a greatly changed society, but it still
aims to create an individual "free to express himself in
society, but also to understand the nature of his society
and his new position within it."
Just as Binning had proposed, today's students
in the studio art program cannot merely sit in a studio
and paint. Undergraduate and graduate studio art
students must take courses in academic subjects. "The
ideal here," says Dr. Caswell, "is that what they study
will complement the thought process that is to be
represented in their own creative art. One of our MFA
students took a course in musicology, with an
emphasis on Bach. Somehow that strikes me as a nice
idea, something that will help develop the intellect."
In class discussions of students' current art
work, Dr. Caswell observes faculty trying to impress
young artists with the seriousness of their artistic
endeavours. "Faculty will be asking the student, 'Why
does this exist?'" he says. "The same sort of thing will
happen with a history student writing a paper. The
criterion is not just lining things up—giving an
historical account—but probing beneath the surface.
One thing that links our choices of faculty members on
both studio side and art history side is that they think
of issues."
UBC art history graduate, now teaching
studio arts at his Alma Mater, Jeff Wall is
a Canadian artist who has received
international attention. His huge backlit
photographs have been exhibited in West
Germany, France, England and Holland.  DEPARTMENT
Professor George McWhirter
Head of Creative Writing
Ul was the first university in North America to
estabh an independent department of
creative writing. Nowhere else in 1965—not
even at the University of Iowa which had begun its
famous Writers' Workshop in the English Department
in 1939—was there a creative writing program
administratively responsible for its own activities.
The Department evolved from one creative
writing course started by the dean of Canadian poets,
Dr. Earle Birney, in 1946—the first course of the kind
offered in Canada. It won its independence in the
1960s, when creative writing programs were popping
up like exclamation marks in North American
universities and colleges.
UBC's unique department grew out of Dr.
Birney's passionate desire to create a harbour where
the nascent writer could work undisturbed by the
scholarly and critical currents of a typical English
department. While there was opposition to the
granting of degrees for creative work among some
professors of English at UBC, the formation of a
separate department was recommended by a
committee from the English Department. Professor
Robert Harlow, Creative Writing's first head,
remembers people laughing when he told them about
a department that was going to teach students to write.
"It was absolute religion that there was no way
anybody can teach writing," he says. "The answer, of
course, is that it's true—you can't. But there is a helluva
lot you can do to help people teach themselves to
Writers—sometimes even those who have
attended university creative writing programs—argue
against learning in a group, saying that anyone who
wants to write truly and freely had better forge his or
her craft in isolation. They fear a pressure to adopt a
style of writing, or to write about approved subjects.
Professor George McWhirter, head of Creative Writing
today, says the Department has no political-literary
line—that is to say it does not think students must
write about certain subjects.
However romantic may be the idea of the
solitary writer in a garret, creative writing programs
demonstrate the advantage and the exhilaration of
collaborative association. "We have come to believe,"
Professor McWhirter says, "that the excellence of the
peer group of writers in the program is of primary
importance. That relationship and the sharing of skills
and inside help continues beyond graduation."
Creative Writing Grads
At various times, UBC's creative writing
program has had exceptional groups of students, who
struck sparks off one another while they were at the
University. Professor McWhirter cites as an example
those with him in his student days between 1965 and
1970. Among them were Dr. Chris Johnson, now head
of Theatre at the University of Manitoba; Derk
Wynand, chairman of the Department of Creative
Writing at the University of Victoria; Charles Lillard,
winner of the Dorothy Livesay (BC Book Awards) Prize
for Poetry and the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for
best history book in 1987; and David Evanier, winner
of the Norma Epstein Award, the premier prize for
student creative writing in Canada, and a founding
editor of EVENT magazine at Douglas College.
Five years later, the MFA graduates in one year
included Dennis Foon, Green Thumb Theatre founder
and winner of both the Chalmers Playwriting Award
and the British Playwrights' Award; poet Robert
Bringhurst, selected for inclusion in both the Oxford
and Penguin books of Canadian verse; dramatist
Margaret Hollingsworth, 1987 playwright in residence
at Stratford; and Geoffrey Hancock, editor of Canadian
Fiction Magazine. The following year's poetry
workshop had Roo Borson and Kim Maltman, both
later winners of the CBC Literary Prize; Morgan
Nyberg, winner of the Governor General's Award for children's literature in 1987; Cathy Ford, who became
president of the League of Canadian Poets; and Daniel
David Moses, who headed the Native Association for
Development in the Performing Arts.
In the two decades since its formation, the
Department has been the seedbed of publications and
publishing efforts that today thrive as independent and
internationally respected literary forums. It has brought
to the University accomplished and famous writers,
among them American playwright Tennessee
Williams, short-story virtuoso Alice Munro and west-
coast novelist Jack Hodgins—the latter a UBC graduate
and student of Dr. Birney. But its proudest
achievement is in having assembled writers who
learned from and helped one another by sharing skills
and ideas and who formed relationships that
supported them after they left UBC.
The Early Poets
In the late 50s and early 60s when Creative
Writing was still an English Department program, UBC
was making a name for itself among poets in Canada
and the U.S. Students on campus and literary friends,
admirers of the American projective-verse poets,
published 35 issues of a magazine anagrammatically
named Tish. Among those who became known as the
Tish poets were two future Governor General's Award
winners—George Bowering and Fred Wah, as well as
Lionel Kearns, Frank Davey and Daphne Marlatt,
whose works appear over and over again in
anthologies of Canadian verse.
Tish began as a reaction to another campus
publication—PRISM, which had itself been created in
reaction to scholarly journals of criticism. PRISM was
launched in 1959 by English Department professors
Jake Zilber and Jan de Bruyn, with the help of others.
Their quarterly was to be solely for creative writing by
new and established writers. PRISM came under the
wing of the creative writing program in 1964, with the
University as its publisher. Then, renamed PRISM
international, it pioneered in publishing translations of
works by writers from Europe, South America, Africa
and the Orient.
During this feisty time, Professor Zilber was
steward of the creative writing program, which was in
what he calls its limbo period—out of the English
Department but not yet recognized. In 1965, Professor
Robert Harlow, who had been in charge of CBC Radio
in B.C. when he had accepted an eight-month
appointment to teach novel writing in 1964, was
appointed head of an official department.
The Workshops
The Department's aim was to introduce all
forms of creative writing and present them in
workshops and tutorials, where the students' work
would be both text and content. In the beginning, the
Department gave BA and MA degrees, but today it
offers fine arts degrees—the BFA, MFA and two joint
MFA degrees with the Theatre Department. Its
workshops—with no more than 15 students in each-
cover the writing of children's literature, radio plays,
non-fiction prose and writing on business, screen and
television plays, stage plays, novels and novellas, short
stories and poetry, and the translation of poetry and
prose. (■
Launched in 1959 by professors in the
English Department, Prism international
became the first student-edited journal in
Canada in 1978. Today it is run by graduate
students of Creative Writing and receives
submissions from writers around the world. \
Driven by the urge to publish their work,
Creative Writing students and professors
have founded presses and established
magazines such as The Canadian Fiction
Magazine, still published today in Toronto.
Students are expected to produce a certain
amount of written material—say, six short stories in a
year—which they bring to the workshops to be
critiqued by their peers. The Department requires
students in the BFA and MFA programs to work in
three genres; it abhors the idea of a novelist who can
write only novels, and time and again it has seen
students excel in areas that were not their chosen
Since learning to write is the goal, a
demonstrated aptitude replaces the usual academic
prerequisites. Introductory courses are open to
undergrads from any faculty if they submit 20 to 25
pages of recent original work. Candidates for the
senior-level courses, the undergraduate and two-year
graduate program are also selected on the basis of their
writing. Graduates enter without regard to the faculty
or department in which they did their undergraduate
work. The graduate program is unique in that no
academic courses are required, and a thesis requires
creative work rather than scholarly research.
Publishing Ventures
Launching the Department in 1965, Bob Harlow
began to build on the basic workshops in prose, poetry
and play forms that Dr. Birney and Professor Zilber
had produced. The writer's eternal urge to publish
made entrepreneurs of students and faculty. In one
year—1968—three publishing ventures sprang up in
the Department. PRISM international produced an
offshoot—a book press which operated for three years.
Undergrad Andreas Schroeder put out Contemporary
Literature in Translation—& publication which survived
for 10 years. And poet and faculty member J. Michael
Yates founded The Sono Nis Press, which published
about 40 titles—among them Contemporary Poetry of
British Columbia, Volvox: Poetry from the Unofficial
Languages of Canada (in translation), and Scann,
Robert Harlow's first novel—before it was sold in 1976
to Morris Publishing of Victoria.
A few years later, UBC students founded what is
today the country's most prestigious magazine for
writers of fiction. The first issue of 77ie Canadian
Fiction Magazine was cranked out on the
Department's Gestetner in 1971. It remained a student
publication until 1975 when MFA graduate Geoffrey
Hancock took over, dropped the definite article and
moved the magazine to Toronto where he still edits it.
A New Head
With the faculty at six and most of the current
course offerings in place, Harlow stepped down in
1978. Remaining on faculty until 1989, he published
three novels after Scann.
Harlow was replaced by Dr. Douglas Bankson.
A published and produced playwright, Dr. Bankson
was directing in the theatre department of the
University of Montana when he was invited to come to
UBC in 1965. He quickly became involved in campus
and community affairs, taking part in the University's
Festival of Contemporary Arts, and, as a governor of the Dominion Drama Festival, promoting original
plays in the festivals. When nothing came of his
proposal for a Canada-wide program to encourage the
workshopping and reading of plays, he and Sheila
Neville, a UBC reference librarian, founded the New
Play Centre in Vancouver. It began in 1970 as a place
where anyone in BC could send a script and get it
critiqued or workshopped. Directed for many years by
UBC graduate Pamela Hawthorn, it continues today as
the most important play-development centre in
Canada. Dr. Bankson's contribution to drama was
recognized on his retirement in 1985 when he was
given a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for his
lifetime service.
Within the Department, Dr. Bankson was
responsible for starting Sideshow a yearly presentation
of one-act plays or scenes written by his students, and
for introducing the writing of song lyrics, which for a
time went on as part of the poetry workshop.
Sideshow, renamed Brave New Play Rites, is held each
year in February.
Under Dr. Bankson, two workshops were
introduced—children's literature and editing a literary
magazine, which used the editing and production of
PRISM international as a practical basis for learning. In
1978, PRISM international became the first student-
edited journal in Canada. Today it is run by graduate
students who are elected by others in the Department.
It has a circulation of 1,400, operates an international
fiction contest which attracts entries from about 500
writers, and produces "Prismatic," a literary series on
coop radio. In 1983, PRISM international wn National
Magazine Awards for best poem and best cover. In
keeping with PRISM's mandate to publish works of
new Canadians writing in English and in English
translation, the Department maintains links with
Punjabi, Asian and Italian writers, sponsoring readings
of their works and assisting in the editing of
New Ventures in Creative Writing
George McWhirter, the present head, came to
the Department in 1967 as a mature student working
on his MA, and joined the faculty in 1971. A poet and
writer of short fiction, McWhirter won the Macmillan
Poetry Prize in 1969, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize
in 1972, and in 1988 both the Ethel Wilson Prize for
Fiction at the B.C. Book Awards and the F. R. Scott
Prize for Translation. He has edited Words from Inside,
a collection of writings by Canadian prison inmates,
and was a member of the BC Ministry of Education
Curriculum Committee for revision of the Grade 11
Writing course.
McWhirter supervises a department that is
blossoming anew. Through the provincial Fund for
Excellence in Education, the Department has been
able to create a permanent full-time position for a
screen and TV writer. Newfoundlander Bill Gough—
screenwriter, director, producer, not to mention
novelist and poet—joined the faculty to forge a link
between Creative Writing and the film division of the
Theatre Department. The resulting joint MFA in
Creative Writing and Film resembles the MFA in
Creative Writing and Theatre, which requires students
to write, and participate in the production of a full-
length play.
In 1988-89, the Department expanded its non-
fiction offerings to include a course in applied creative
non-fiction, which involves writing on subjects
requiring extensive research and interviewing. A
diploma in creative non-fiction has also been added to
the existing MFA specialty in that area. The expanded
program was made possible by a donation of $500,000
from Maclean Hunter Ltd., matched by the provincial
government. Instruction in the program is aimed at
experienced writers or professionals who wish to
specialize in subjects such as business, the arts or law.
For the inaugural year, the Department had Susan
Crean as writer-in-residence and heard lectures from Authors of children's literature, playwrights,
poets, novelists—the faculty members in
Creative Writing are seen by their students to
be actively working writers.
distinguished visiting writers Pierre Berton, Peter
Newman and Elspeth Cameron.
Attesting to the Department's reputation,
applications come from the United States, eastern
Canada, England and increasingly from China. It has
had students on University Graduate Fellowships from
England and Denmark, and Commonwealth
Fellowship students from Lesotho and England. And,
to take only one year as an example of the program's
national popularity, in 1987-88, students came from
Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan, as well as
from various parts of British Columbia. Every year, the
Department receives more applications than it can
accept. Three people seek each undergraduate place
and as many as 72 people have applied for the
14 available MFA places.
In a department where everyone is trying to get
on with his or her own writing, the atmosphere is open
and friendly. Undergraduates mingle with grads,
whom they see working at higher levels of
development and on longer projects, and professors are
known by their first names. As Bob Harlow says, "The
students know that we are writers and that they want
to be writers. And that's important. If professors aren't
producing as writers, they are not going to be much
use to this Department." Producing writers in the
Department include full-time faculty members
Associate Professor Sue Ann Alderson, who is the
creator of the popular Bonnie McSmithers series of
children's books; Associate Professor C. J. Newman,
the author of two novels and many short stories and
poems; and Assistant Professor Bryan Wade, whose
plays have been produced in theatres across the
country and who has written for radio, TV and film.
New full-time faculty who replaced Professors Harlow
and Zilber when they retired in 1989 are Linda
Svendsen, winner of an O'Henry Award, and Keith
Maillard, author of the novel MOTET.
"Our aim," says George McWhirter, "is to bring
talents and people of talent together in a working
situation, where they are producing original material.
We want to be like the real world, where there are
collaborations, deadlines and a necessity to work in
more than one form to make a living."
After many years' experience in the program
both as a student and as a teacher, McWhirter agrees
with its fdunders that the essence of creative writing
cannot be taught. "What the student writes is the
content, and we can't teach that. They are constantly
bringing different content, from their different
backgrounds, to us. The only thing we can do is to give
them an opportunity to develop the forms and shapes
that will suit their own material. If we are doing it right,
you shouldn't be able to tell what we have done."  VISUAL
Dr. Ronald MacGregor
Head of Visual and Performing Arts in Education
The Department of Visual and Performing Arts in
Education is an art and music enclave within
the Faculty of Education, with faculty members
who are artists and musicians as well as educators.
Committed to their art and to the science of education,
these men and women wear a professional double
harness. It may tug them more to one side or the other
at various times in their careers, but in the end it keeps
them balanced between their desire to create and their
desire to teach other people how to teach. The
Department's aim has always been to train elementary
and high school art and music teachers to wear that
double harness to their own advantage and for the
benefit of others.
In 1956, when the B.C. government closed the
Provincial Normal School and moved all teacher
training onto the UBC campus, separate art and music
divisions were created in the new Faculty of Education.
They developed in different ways before coming
together in 1980 as a department.
The music division followed a traditional
pattern. Its early faculty members, having responded
more to the tug of pedagogy than of performance, were
for the most part education scholars. They taught
teaching methodology, except for some theory and
history courses, which were nevertheless slanted to the
needs of the classroom teacher.
There was a close link between the music
division of the Faculty of Education and the then
Department of Music, with education faculty members
having joint appointments in Music. When the
Bachelor of Music degree was begun in 1959, students
planning to be secondary school teachers did their
undergraduate work in the Department of Music,
followed by one year in Education, an arrangement
that continued until 1981. Then the School of Music
and the Faculty of Education began to offer a Bachelor
of Education in Music degree, which blended
education and music studies over a five-year period
rather than separating them into distinct phases. This
integrated degree, now discontinued, is still discussed
among music educators as an exemplary program.
In 1956, the future of the art division was
determined by a Ministry of Education decision to
place the technical training of art teachers in the
Faculty of Education rather than in the Fine Arts
Department. As a result, the division developed a
program unique in Canada, if not North America. It
gave its own courses in the fundamentals of painting,
drawing, printmaking, fabric arts and ceramics. It
acquired the studios and equipment to serve large
classes and hired known artists with an interest in
Early Artists on Faculty
Among them were the late Elmer Ozard, a
watercolourist who was the first head of the division;
Professor Emeritus J. A. S. MacDonald, an abstract
expressionist represented in the permanent collection
of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Professor Emeritus
Gordon Smith, a painter of international renown, who
has several works in the National Gallery of Canada;
Professor Emerita Penny Gouldstone whose
embroidered and dyed fabrics hang in Canadian
embassies around the world; Associate Professor
Emeritus Sinclair Healy, a draftsman, printmaker and
painter who had studied with Alex Colville; Associate
Professor Emerita Doris Livingstone, a watercolourist
and student at Banff of Walter J. Phillips; and Professor
Emeritus Sam Black, a B.C. watercolourist and
printmaker, and a revered master teacher.
When the two divisions joined in 1980, there
were seven full-time faculty members in music and 11
in art. Within a few years, the new Department had
been transformed by economic hard times and the
over-supply of teachers in the province. To avoid
duplicating courses given in Fine Arts and Music, the
University cancelled most of the art division's studio program and the music division's theory and history
courses, and reduced the Department's teaching
A Post-Degree Institute
A few years later when the Faculty of Education
was restructured as a post-degree institution, the
Department devised a new program and implemented
it in the 1987-88 academic year. It is for students who
have already taken an undergraduate degree—in rare
cases, a general BA, but usually a BA Studio, which is
a degree administered by the Fine Arts Department, or
a BMus, taken in the School of Music. Elementary
school art and music teachers now enter the Faculty of
Education for a two-year, four-term course. Secondary
school teachers require three consecutive terms to get
a diploma and must complete an additional four and
a half units for a Bachelor of Education degree.
Adapting to this reorganization, the Department
has expanded its role as a graduate school. Today, with
half the faculty it had at the beginning of the decade,
it has created the largest art and music education
doctoral program in Canada, with a total of 35 master's
and doctoral students. The art division graduated its
first EdD in 1987, has produced three since and has
two more pending; music has given four doctorates
and has four current candidates.
One of the attractions of the graduate program,
which has brought students to the University from the
United States, is the opportunity to combine work in
art education with other disciplines. Through the
Faculty of Graduate Studies' interdisciplinary program,
graduate students undertake studies that might involve
art education and architecture or anthropology.
A successful doctoral candidate recently combined art
education, art history and sociology.
At the same time, the Department has become
an innovator in education research and is known
internationally for the participation of its faculty in art
and music education studies. Says Department head
Dr. Ronald MacGregor, "It seems to me that our
priority now is in making the business of teaching
more systematic, more of a science."
Art Education
For his part, Dr. MacGregor has been active in
the 12,000-member National Art Education
Association in the United States. He was recently
named a distinguished fellow for his work as editor of
the association's quarterly research journal, its trade
journal and two of its books. He was the first Canadian
to be so honoured, as he was the first Canadian to give
a keynote address to the association's annual
conference and to deliver one of its Studies in
Education lectures.
Perhaps the most revolutionary development in
art education in recent years is a concept known as
Discipline Based Art Education. DBAE strives for
instruction in art that balances production, history,
criticism and aesthetics starting in Kindergarten and
continuing through to Grade 12. Dr. MacGregor has
been active in developing DBAE, working with the
Getty Center for Education in the Arts in Los Angeles,
which has sponsored trials in nine school districts
Linked to the need for systematic art teaching
is the need to develop verifiable testing of a student's
progress. As a whole, the profession is working towards
a new level of accountability, a way of grading art work
that combines the objectivity of paper and pencil tests
with the flexibility of personal assessment. Recently,
Dr. MacGregor and others in the National Art
Education Association produced a paper on testing
and assessment, prompted by the association's concern
that too much reliance was being placed on written
tests of art facts. The paper discussed art-assessment
techniques that allow a teacher to say students have
progressed to certain plateaus. One method combines
"Right from the beginning in this department
WE were concerned about teaching in the
Robert Steele Associate Professor in Visual and
Performing Arts in Education "Our graduate students in art education
have offered excellent leadership in
curriculum development over the last few
years. the guides that have been developed
here in b.c. have been exemplary, and one of
them-the elementary guide-is recognized
as one of the top 10 in north america.
i think a lot of that is the result of the
kinds of thinking people have done in
this department."
Dr. James Gray
Professor and Director of Graduate Programs,
Visual and Performing Arts in Education
internal assessment with external moderation—that is
to say a teacher gives a mark, which can be raised or
lowered by another person familiar with the student's
This method is used by art examiners for the
International Baccalaureate, which is a high school
graduation qualification now given in 65 countries.
UBC's Dr. Graeme Chalmers, a professor in Visual and
Performing Arts in Education, is the chief examiner of
art and design for the International Baccalaureate and
is responsible for curriculum development and for
other examiners around the world.
Music Education
For music educators, the key professional
organization is the International Society for Music
Education (ISME), which grew out of UNESCO and
now has approximately 70 member countries. In 1988,
two members of UBC's Education Faculty attended the
society's meeting in Canberra, which dealt with
community music and the interaction between
amateurs and professionals. Sessional instructor Jane
Atkinson works for ISME's world commisssion on
community music education. The commission, which
is expected to continue for the next decade, is
investigating and evaluating all aspects of community
music education throughout the world.
Atkinson attended the meeting in Canberra
with Dr. Allen Clingman, chairman of the music
division. Dr. Clingman is keenly interested in
community music and is on the board of directors of
the Canadian Music Centre, which promotes Canadian
music internationally. He was chairman of the
committee that started the western branch of the
centre in Vancouver 10 years ago. With a Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
(SSHRCC) grant, Dr. Clingman has undertaken a three-
year comparative study of community education in
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Finland, and
presented a report to the Canberra meeting on the
findings of the first stage of his research, which
focussed on Canada.
Dr. MacGregor and Dr. James Gray, who is
director of graduate programs in the Faculty, are also
engaged in an intensive field research project. They
have a SSHRCC grant to study art teachers and what it
is they actually do, as opposed to what art educators
assume they do. The study is taking them into 60
classrooms across the country. Their preliminary
findings, presented in 1987 to the National Art
Education Association, dismayed educators who had
assumed teachers would be more aware of
contemporary pedagogical research.
An exceptional example of the Department's
energetic outreach can be found in the joint conference
of the Canadian and United States Societies for
Education Through Art—Expose 86—held at the
University in July, 1986. Faculty members Kit Grauer
and Graeme Chalmers co-chaired the planning
committee of this meeting, which brought 426
delegates from 16 countries to the campus, where they
were offered 84 work sessions and three keynote
presentations. Some of the proceedings of the
conference were published in a special issue of the
Journal of Multkultural and Cross-cultural Research in
Art Education, edited by Dr. MacGregor.
Provincially, UBC art education graduates
offered excellent leadership when the government
decided a few years ago to revise the art curriculum.
Many of the committees struck by the ministry were
guided by alumni who had been through the studio
program and had done graduate work, while
Dr. Chalmers helped develop the section on the built
environment—the study of the principles of
architectural design and urban planning. "Because of
the kind of thinking that has gone on in this
Department," Dr. Gray says, "our graduates were able m
anw«... to help their colleagues who hadn't taken graduate
work here see that there was a frame of reference
beyond what they had experienced in their classrooms.
Consequently, the curriculum guides were exemplary,
and the elementary guide is recognized as one of the
top 10 in North America."
Teaching Art Teachers
Each year now, the Department prepares
approximately 30 artists and musicians to be teaching
professionals. Most of the courses they will take
concern teaching methods, but a few of the old-style,
hands-on studio courses remain.
The art division still teaches ceramics and
textiles, which were never offered in the Fine Arts
Department. Kit Grauer, the textiles expert, and Mary
Daniel, the ceramist, build their classes around the
goals and objectives the province has set for the school
curriculum, including a component of art history,
criticism, studio practice and the development of
The art division has retained another studio
course in which the techniques of printmaking,
drawing, painting, ceramics and textiles are taught to
those who might not have been exposed to these arts
as undergraduates. Printmaking is taught by Associate
Professor Robert Steele, who set up the Department's
graphics course in 1960 and built its print shop in a hut
formerly used as a pollution lab. Today, the print shop
is shared with the Fine Arts Department, where Steele
also teaches.
For 30 years the Department has run its Child
Art Centre, a facility that gives education students a
chance to team-teach art to children aged five to 12. In
a hut close to University Hill High School, the centre
operates as a once-a-week, after-school program. While
the 30 children experiment in many media, the
university students can see how they solve art
The faculty member in charge of the centre is
Professor Michael Foster, who has taught arts-methods
courses since 1959. Foster, who is the department
missionary, frequently volunteers his time to speak to
groups interested in art education and the creative
development of pre-school and elementary school
UlusjrTtttchiiTK MeIhudk
In the music division, students in the
elementary school stream are introduced to two ways
of teaching music to young children. In the early 70s,
faculty members and a number of school supervisors
in the province examined five methods of teaching
music and elected to use the activity-oriented system
of the Austro-German pedagogue Carl Orff and the
more concept-oriented methods of the Hungarian
Zoltan Kodaly. The division's choice continues to affect
the teaching of music in many BC schools.
In the same way, says Dr. MacGregor, the
strengths of people in the Department have resulted in
certain alternatives being followed in music education
in the province. A notable example was Professor
Emeritus Campbell Trowsdale's enthusiasm for the
ukulele as an instrument suitable for classroom
instruction. Several school districts in the Lower
Mainland have as a result purchased ukuleles for their
elementary students and continue to look to UBC for
teachers trained to instruct on that instrument.
Elementary school teachers also learn to teach
the recorder and do work in singing, rhythmic
speaking and movement, while secondary school
teachers are taught how to organize a choir, a band
and a music library, and learn to conduct rehearsals
and teach instruments they themselves do not play.
The division is also developing an expertise in training
educators for special needs children, and in
multicultural and computer music.
Sandra Davies is an assistant professor who came to the Department in 1967 after teaching in the
Surrey school system. Her interest in muiticulturalism
led her to produce a series of cassette tapes,
handbooks and slides on the music and instruments
of four cultures—the Indians of the Pacific Northwest
coast, the Chinese, Japanese and Indo-Canadians.
Davies also teaches a course that brings
children onto the campus to participate in music
learning experiences. The Children's Music Workshop
gives music education majors a chance to team-teach
children from nearby public schools. The children,
aged seven to 12, participate in activities ranging from
playing games that involve songs to writing a radio
Alex McLeod is a senior instructor who came
onto the faculty in 1974 after teaching in the
Vancouver school system for 10 years and working as
a Vancouver School Board music consultant. McLeod
teaches a course for instrumentalists who will lead a
school choir. An overview of five centuries of choral
music, it focusses on singing, conducting and
coaching, and ends with a performance in the Faculty
of Education.
McLeod also gives a course that prepares a
student to direct a musical comedy. In three weeks, he
reviews everything a director needs to know to stage a
production and sends his students away with a prepackaged musical, including musical scores with
choreographic notation, cassette tapes of the music,
and a full video performance.
One of the most unusual courses given in the
Department brings music and art together in a
computer studio. The course, developed by Dr. Theo
Goldberg, has attracted teachers from Quebec and
Ontario, a music supervisor from Winnipeg, a UBC
science student and a member of the Education
Students prepare a three- or four-minute slide
and music show. The work involves the creation of
some 50 to 80 images using an Amiga computer
program, which allows great flexibility in creating
patterns, incorporating photographs, manipulating and
merging images, and adding colour and perspective.
As each image is completed, a slide photograph is
taken of it as it appears on the computer screen.
Finally a musical score, composed on a Yamaha
synthesizer and Roland sampler, is combined with
the slides. The amazingly varied and imaginative
results are presented to the Faculty in a group show
at year's end.
Courses like Dr. Goldberg's allow education
students to develop their creativity as they acquire
teaching expertise. Students now come to the
Department after four years in which they have been
committed to their own artistic or musical skills. They
may have begun their university careers hoping to
earn a living as painters or concert musicians, and find
themselves turning to education as a necessary
alternative. Helping them with that transition—fitting
them to the double harness—has become a greater
challenge for the Department.
Kit Grauer recognizes the challenge. "Our
students have spent their entire undergraduate time
thinking of themselves, and it's very hard for them to
take the focus away from themselves and put it on
someone else whose needs are just as important,
especially when being a good artist isn't going to help
their students at all."
In the music division, Dr. Clingman stresses
that teaching music is a profession for people with lots
of energy and a great love of people. "I've seen more
than one musician who would have been mediocre by
concert standards turn into a superb teacher. We try to
get students to realize that this is not a place for
frustrated or disappointed performers, that it's a place
where people choose something that is very serious
and worthwhile."
*******   sTl.„,,
u-w    ana.
For many years, education students in the art
division held a spring-term print exhibition
and sale, which attracted long lineups of art
lovers waiting to buy a professionally done
print for the bargain price of $5. JvJ^ew-'Pimm/
n recent years, Canada has seen an unprecedented expansion in the
creative and performing arts.
More Canadians are making art; the number of artists in the country
increased by 102 per cent between 1971 and 1981.
More Canadians are studying art; full-time enrolment in fine and applied arts programs
at Canadian universities tripled between 1970 and 1985.
And more Canadians are appreciating art; between 1977 and 1985, participation in
arts-related activities in Canada grew faster than the adult population and faster than
participation in all other leisure-time activities.
UBC enters the last decade of this century, proud of its achievements in the creative and
performing arts, and with a mission to contribute in a major way to the cultural
development of British Columbia and Canada. We will be seeking stronger links with
community arts and performing groups and will explore with other educational
institutions areas of mutual interest that lend themselves to collaboration.
Our well-established creative and performing arts departments have already forged firm
links with the city's professional arts groups and arts industry, and we predict that those
links will grow as we continue to turn out educated arts consumers and practitioners.
Our two-year graduate Arts Administration program, begun in 1988 in the Faculty of
Commerce, with the co-operation of the Museum of Anthropology, the School of Music,
and the departments of Fine Arts and Theatre, is unique in Canada and will meet the
country's need for skilled administrators to run museums and theatres.
In our Theatre and Creative Writing departments, where we have hired faculty who can
move easily between several disciplines, we look forward to greater communication
among film, theatre, music and creative writing students, and to co-operative ventures
that will bring together the many skills until now taught and practised separately. With its long
sojourn in a low-
ceilinged basement
soon to end, UBC's
Fine Arts Gallery,
under curator Scott
Watson, will expand
its curatorial, teaching and exhibition
E    -felt
^ .uthor of books
for young children
and novels for
juveniles, Sue Ann
Alderson gives
Creative Writing
workshops in
children's literature. With experts on our faculty in writing for film, composing film music, and in directing and producing movies, we anticipate the day when a full-length movie can be
produced at UBC.
Our vision of UBC in the 21st century has already inspired a new generation of patrons
and sponsors, among them the Chan Foundation of Canada, founded by Vancouver
businessmen Tom and Caleb Chan, who have recently come to Canada from Hong
Kong. The foundation has chosen UBC for its first major philanthropic commitment.
Its $10-million gift, matched by the provincial government, will soon make our dream
of a centre for the creative and performing arts a splendid reality. By 1995, we shall have
a Creative Arts Building entirely devoted to studio work in our art, music, theatre, and
film programs. We shall have an art gallery, a 700-seat theatre, and a magnificent
1,400-seat concert hall—the Chan Shun Auditorium, named for the father of the
Chan brothers.
Chan Shun was a man who taught his sons the importance of giving back to the
community in which they live and work. That family priority coincides with our
belief that the University must build bridges within the community as well as with other
nations. Our Performing Arts Centre will provide a forum of enlightenment for diverse
ethnic and cultural groups already established in the community. It will also reinforce
Canadian efforts to strengthen cultural and economic ties with other nations, taking
the province and the country beyond their existing international relationships into a
fuller, richer dimension. Our centre will add a significant new piece to Canada's
multicultural mosaic.
On a practical level, the Chan Shun Auditorium will give the city a medium-sized
concert hall and will meet our need for a venue for important public lectures, musical
performances and convocations. In the Creative Arts Building, we shall be able to
provide the specialized facilities that students and teachers in our creative and
performing arts programs need to expand as artists and to acquire a technical
sophistication equal to, if not leading, industry and professional standards.
An important component of our Performing Arts Centre will be its art gallery, which has been funded by a gift of $1.5-million from the Morris and Helen Belkin Foundation. The
gallery will fulfil many functions. It will maintain and display the 900-piece University
Art Collection. It will receive art shows of international calibre. It will be a component
in the preparation of students for curatorial and administrative positions. It will be
a laboratory for art historians. And it will serve as a Canadian focus for Asian and
British Columbian art.
Adding to the impact of our creative and performing arts centre, Joan Carlisle-Irving's
gift of $250,000 will create an Artists-in-Residence Program, which will bring
distinguished artists and musicians to campus where they will pursue their work and
advise students. An equal amount given by Nancy Cliff will fund a Writers-in-Residence
Program with the same goals.
A donation of $500,000 given by Maclean Hunter Ltd. has created the Maclean Hunter
Chair in Non-fiction and Writing on Business, which took in its first students in 1989.
The chair will mean new growth in non-fiction writing and will be incorporated
eventually into a planned School of Journalism—another two-year, inter-departmental
graduate program.
Elsewhere on campus, a $2.9-million collection of European ceramics, given to the
University by Walter Koerner, will be housed in a new west wing of the Museum of
Anthropology, made possible by a gift from the late Major-General Victor W Odium.
This collection, along with 300 pieces of Asian pottery, donated by Dr. and Mrs. Miguel
Tecson, will make ceramics a major component of the Museum.
With these new initiatives, we have laid the foundation for the next great step forward
in our teaching of the creative and performing arts. Our vision includes new art history
fellowships to allow our students to travel to the great galleries and museums, new
scholarships to honour such people as Earle Birney and to bring the best students to our
creative writing program, and funds for new musical instruments to replace those that
have been in use for several decades. To achieve these objectives, we have renewed our
partnership with government, business, and the community. On the strength of that
partnership we can now move to fulfil our vision and to keep faith with those who set
the stage so many years ago.
JlXTY-FOUR  9 15-  1 99 0
The President's Report on the Creative and
Performing Arts was produced by the UBC Cot
Relations Office,
The Community Relations Offic<
Editor:,Howard Flux-gold
Writer: Audrey Cm
Photography: David Gray
(Special thanks to the UBC Archives and an
Laurenda Daniells and Chris Hiv:
Design: Current Design Group/Vancouver


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items