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 through the arts.

Arts Fellows with fiddles stand before classroom of school children all raising their handsUNC-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. Fellows apply and enroll in AMST 398 (Service-Learning in America), a service-learning course that involves at least 30 hours of service with an arts-based project in the community in addition to academic study of the history and practice of socially-oriented performance in the U.S. and beyond. Fellows may request that other arts-based, service-learning courses (such as MUSC 269) fulfill this component of the fellowship.

Additionally, 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 participate in one Arts in Public Service Fellows academic year cohort. (See below for more information about the cohort.)

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 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 following is required for participation in the 2019-2020 Arts in Public Service Fellows cohort:

  • Two cohort performances and dinners during 2019-2020. Each semester, fellows must attend one dinner with BPSS staff followed by selected Carolina Performing Arts performance (subsidized by CPA).
    • Jan. 17, 2020: INVISIBLE(s) in Hill Hall at 8 p.m.
    • Mar. 19, 2020: HOME, created by Geoff Sobelle at 7:30 p.m.
  • One arts skills training. Fellows must attend one arts-based skills training together.
    • Moving community: exploring improvisatory community work, with George Barrett – Nov. 6, 2019 at 1-3 p.m.
  • 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.
  • Two cohort meetings during 2019-2020. 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 arts and public service projects.

How to Apply

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

Applications for the 2020-2021 Arts in Public Service Fellows cohort will take place in September. Apply online through the CCPS Application and Nomination Portal.

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.