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School of Creative and Performing Arts has a new director

By Babur Ilchi, January 22 2015 —

Professor Bruce Barton is the University of Calgary School of Creative and Performing Arts’ (SCPA) first permanent director since the school opened in 2013.

Barton came from the University of Toronto where he was the director of undergraduate drama programming. Before that he was an associate director for the U of T’s graduate program.

“[During] the last decade at the U of T my focus has been on integration between practice and theory,” Barton says. “The U of T had a high profile as a place where students could find strong preparation and rigorous background in terms of critical and dramaturgical thinking but at the same time with lots of hands on application.”

The intersection of practice and theory, known as praxis, which is a key focus of the SCPA, reflects Barton’s practical experience as a playwright and theoretical knowledge of the arts. Praxis has gained recognition internationally and is now the focus in many performing arts disciplines.

“At the U of C we have scholars that are extremely good in terms of traditional scholarship and we have lots of people who are very well established as successful practitioners,” Barton says. “I think the school will be strengthened if more of us are looking at that intersection between practice and theory.”

Currently, Barton is using an Insight Development Grant provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to look at the concept of intimacy in interdisciplinary performance. The work involves several artists from different disciplines, including a writer, a musician and a dramaturge.

“It’s a preliminary grant built upon a bunch of work I’ve done in the nature of intimacy in performance,” Barton says. “Artists working in the different areas have intimacy as a significant aspect of what they do.”

Barton was drawn to the SCPA by  the opportunity to bring together a single organization within the university that is dedicated to the creative and performing arts.

“There are very few schools of creative and performing arts in Canada, and they’re very different one to the next,” Barton says. “It seemed to be that this was a really remarkable opportunity bringing together three disciplines, all of which I have some training in and I work in as a creative artist.”

Barton hopes to raise the profile of the U of C’s creative arts programs and attract students interested in these fields to study at the U of C.

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