News & Announcements

Bring up the lights—the arts go live and in person at Cleveland State University

CSU’s School of Music, Department of Theatre and Dance, and School of Film and Media Arts are excited to welcome students and faculty back to campus for in-person learning this fall. After spending last school year in remote instruction and giving virtual performances, students will be back in the classroom and on the stage.

The pandemic restrictions that shut down CSU live performances last year forced a hard stop for all of Cleveland’s arts and culture industry, a major contributor to the city’s economic health. As reported in a 2019 study, the creative arts sector adds $9.1 billion to the Greater Cleveland area economy, creates over 62,000 jobs, and supplies more than $3 billion in wages and business owners’ income. Cleveland State’s students and graduates benefit from and contribute to the local arts industry by filling jobs, gaining internship experiences, and serving as a workforce pipeline for Playhouse Square and beyond.

Last year at CSU, singers and musicians had to wear masks, stay six feet apart, and never had the chance to perform for a live audience. Dr. Heather Russell, director of the CSU School of Music, reflected on what the return to campus means for music students, “Once again, our students will experience the creative community of orchestra, ensembles, and in-person lessons. Their skills and enjoyment of music making will be shared with live audiences and they will get the satisfaction of hearing live applause.”

Just as Playhouse Square opens its 2021-2022 season, so will the Department of Theatre and Dance. Even though last season saw a lineup of virtual productions, theatre and dance students will be back in business with live shows, engaging performers, designers, and crew members. “The art forms of theatre and dance are intimately tied to people interacting with each other through voice, movement, and touch,” said Holly Holsinger, chair of the theatre and dance department. “Active hands-on learning alongside professionals in the field will be food for the souls of all involved—the students and teachers are starved for this ability to connect and be present in the space together.”

As classes started on August 23, the CSU School of Film and Media Arts students resuming film production activities in person and at a larger scale after the pandemic required smaller crews and outdoor settings. “Our student filmmakers are looking forward to working on more complex film productions with larger crews and utilizing the expanded studio spaces at the School of Film & Arts,” commented Cigdem Slankard, interim director of the school.

This fall’s Student Film Festival will be hosted in the new state-of-the art screening room located on the sixth floor of the Idea Center at Playhouse Square. Interested patrons should see the School of Film & Media Arts’ Facebook page for announcements and schedules (

The School of Music calendar will include student and guest performances, recitals, and concerts. “While precautions such as singing masks and instrument bell covers may still be necessary, we look forward to our students offering a full schedule of music events.”

The Theatre and Dance Department’s season opens with a production of Blithe Spirit in Play House Square’s Outcault Theatre, Oct. 21-31, 2021. The fall dance concert will be performed in the CSU Arts Campus Black Box Theatre, on Nov. 12 & 13, 2021.

The public is invited to enjoy student productions and concerts throughout the fall semester. Most events are free to attend. To review the fall calendar of arts events, visit and mark your calendars. It’s “on with the show” at Cleveland State University!