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In 2015, the Buckley Public Service Scholars (BPSS) program at the Carolina Center for Public Service and Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) partnered to create the Arts in Public Service Fellows, a program that encourages students to enrich their communities and work toward social change through the arts.

APSF workshopUNC-Chapel Hill and the Triangle area are both rich with opportunities to connect the arts and public service. This may mean pursuing public service in a creative mode, pursuing the arts in a service-oriented mode or some mixture of the two. This program emphasizes expansive definitions of both “service” and “arts,” and advocates for creative modes of connecting them. Arts in Public Service Fellows will learn the ways in which the arts have effected and will continue to effect social change, develop necessary skills for engaging in this work themselves and gain first-hand experience supporting local arts and public service projects.

Fellowship components

Arts in Public Service Fellows (APSF) fulfill the requirements of the BPSS program and build portfolios with a particular focus on the connections between arts and social change.

Arts Fellows with fiddles stand before classroom of school children all raising their handsTo complete the program successfully, Arts in Public Service Fellows must log at least 100 arts-based hours (of the 300 necessary for BPSS), two arts-based skills trainings (of the four required for BPSS) and one arts-connected academic service-learning course—in addition to participating in one APSF academic year cohort. Interested students can apply to participate in the academic year cohort early in the fall semester each year and independently pursue other forms of arts engagement.

Students pursuing this distinction will have the opportunity to work with established arts-based projects, to propose and create engagement opportunities with the arts and receive training and support from Carolina faculty and staff in arts-based work with communities. Graduating Arts in Public Service Fellows will typically be recognized at a reception before a CPA performance near the end of their final spring semester.

2019-2020 Arts in Public Service Fellows cohort

The 2020-2021 academic year Arts in Public Service Fellows cohort theme will be “Arts and the work of racial justice.” The following sessions are included in the 2020-2021 Arts in Public Service Fellows cohort:

  • Two cohort meetings – Fellows will gather once a semester with BPSS and CPA staff to share experiences, challenges and best practices with one another. This community will serve as a support network and working group for your arts and public service projects.
  • Two cohort performances – Each semester, fellows will attend one Carolina Performing Arts performance (subsidized by CPA). Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, we will have screenings of two CPA-connected performances:
  • Two arts skills trainings – Fellows will attend two arts-based skills training together.
    • Fundraising 101 with CPA’s Director of Development, Ketura Parker, and Associate Director of Development, Betsy Busald – October 30 from 12-1:30 p.m.
    • Moving community: exploring improvisatory community work, with George Barrett of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History – date TBD
  • One individual meeting during the term 2019-2020 – Each fellow must schedule one individual meeting with APSF staff to set goals and discuss progress in the program.

The staff supporting this year’s cohort includes Ryan Nilsen, Senior Program Officer for Community Engagement at CCPS; Amanda Graham, Associate Director of Engagement at CPA; Lauren DiGiulio, Mellon DisTIL Postdoctoral Fellow at CPA; and Estzer Rimanyi, Engagement Intern at CPA. Cohort activities are subject to change.

How to Apply

Students who would like to be an Arts in Public Service Fellow should email Ryan Nilsen at to indicate your interest, whether or not you plan to apply for this year’s particular cohort.

Applications for the 2020-2021 Arts in Public Service Fellows cohort are closed. Applications for the 2021-2022 cohort will open early in the the fall 2021 semester.

About Carolina Performing Arts

The mission of Carolina Performing Arts is to enrich lives by creating and presenting exceptional arts experiences and connecting them to the UNC community and beyond. Established in 2005 at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Performing Arts presents the very best from the full spectrum of the performing arts: internationally renowned recitalists and orchestras, chamber ensembles, jazz, folk and world music artists, dance and theater.

CPA strives to nurture artistic innovation and the development of new works on and off campus; to challenge and inspire audiences with powerful and transformative performances; and to integrate the arts into the life of the University, embracing its mission of teaching, research and public service.