About the School

Faculty of Humanities

About the School

At the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, we are renowned professionals who offer a dynamic range of courses and learning opportunities. We offer a unique student-centered experience in the Department of Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts, and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture.

You will be encouraged to develop your creativity and intellectual curiosity. You will experience:

  • small class sizes
  • energetic instruction
  • close mentoring
  • social engagement
  • links to the broader community



The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts was formed in 2002 as an interdisciplinary centre for creative and scholarly activities. We are respected professionals who are experienced teachers and remain active in our disciplines, bringing relevant and up-to-date instruction.

Our collective mission embraces a combination of critical thinking, theoretical reflection and practical outcomes. In offering 3-year Pass, 4-year BA (Hons) and BMus degrees, we provide the foundation for hands-on experience while encouraging insight, rigour and independent thought. The history of our respective art forms and the thematic relationships between contemporary practice and conceptualization are key to understanding how imagination, creativity and innovation are at the heart of society’s most original cultural expression.

The Walker Gift and New Building Confirmed

In November 2008, President Jack Lightstone announced a $15-million gift from Marilyn I. Walker, famed fibre artist and philanthropist. Unprecedented in its generosity and foresight, the gift was key to securing the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building (198 St. Paul Street) in downtown St. Catharines for future adaptation as a state-of-the-art learning facility. The university and the city have combined forces to create a Performing Arts Centre and a new home for the MIWSFPA. Construction of this $100 plus-million project is scheduled for Spring/Summer 2013 with a substantial completion date of May 2015 for the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and Fall 2015 for the Performing Arts Centre.

The new purpose-built facility will house 50 full-time faculty, part-time instructors and staff and more than 500 students. It will enrich the lives of students pursuing careers as artists, theatre directors, actors, musicians, cultural theorists, skilled teachers and the like.

Marilyn I. Walker made this visionary concept possible. Her gift is civic mindedness at its best and an inspiration to many others who have given in support of this project. The gift enabled us to advance to the next crucial step — a feasibility study that advocated a partnership between the university and the city.

The community supports the creation of this cultural hub. In addition to adapting the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building, the construction of adjacent performance or presentation spaces will positively impact on our community providing the citizens of St. Catharines and the Region with exceptional cultural facilities.

School philosophy

Our commitment is to student-centered learning, innovative teaching, praxis, and community interaction. Our strength is the caliber of our faculty, our award-winning research and teaching and our vision for an integrated approach to the fine and performing arts.

An understanding of the relationship between practice and theory is at the heart of our programs. To that end historical, thematic and contextual approaches allow for a balanced and nuanced understanding of both traditional and contemporary trends in your chosen field.

Performance and studio-related activities are the very definition of student-centered learning where process, close interaction between instructor and student, and critical reflection go hand-in-hand. The products of these inspired encounters are often the focus of student critiques and at a more advanced level, a main stage production, a musical recital or a visual arts exhibition: the public face, in other words, of our collective learning and creativity.

The principle of interdisciplinary study is championed by our Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture where students follow a program of study unique to their interests. This includes special topics offered by the program (cSTAC) as well as cross-listed courses with all departments, film studies and the Centre for Canadian Studies. Enhanced by small-sized seminars and the dedication of some of our best teachers, this program of study is geared to the independent student who believes in the value of a multi-faceted undergraduate degree.

In addition to preparing students for careers in performance, drama, studio, arts management and cultural leadership, vital too are the inspirational roles that teachers and researchers play. Should teaching at all levels, community-related service (Applied Theatre) or graduate work be your passion, our advanced seminars, directed studies, thesis courses, co-op programs (Dramatic Arts), and excellent mentoring will each play a definitive role in helping you achieve these important goals and more.

For program descriptions and degree options, visit Departments and Centres.



Watch A Visit to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts to learn about the Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts, and Studies in Arts and Culture programs at the School. 




Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts


Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)
February 26, 2016 - 7:30pm - March 5, 2016 - 7:30pm