Clarksville, Tennessee, is home to Austin Peay State University (APSU), where you’ll find over 10,000 “Governors” enrolled in 62 different majors and 108 concentrations. At APSU, you’ll also find the state’s only “Center of Excellence” designated specifically for the creative arts by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts (CECA, or “seek-ah”) receives annual state funding, with a match from APSU, to elevate the arts regionally and throughout the state. Current CECA Director Dr. Janice Crews arrived in January 2017 with a background in music education and orchestra administration.


Since its inception in 1985, CECA has been providing students, the Clarksville community, and the Middle Tennessee region with engaging experiences in visual art and design, music, theatre and dance, and creative writing. CECA brings both emerging and prominent artists from around the world to Clarksville to introduce innovative ways of making or exploring art. CECA presents over 80 events per year, including concerts, lectures, theatre productions, master classes, and workshops. CECA also supports dozens of student scholarships and allows faculty to conduct research worldwide.


CSA dance instructor Claire Estes with CSA students

In September alone, CECA will have several impressive events that are not to be missed. On September 7–8, CECA will host the premiere of a new musical drama entitled An Elegant Obsession by Tennessee composer and former APSU music professor George Mabry. A week-long residency and public concert will take place September 18–23 with the principal clarinetist of the L.A. Philharmonic, Boris Allakhverdyan, one of six artists-in-residence for the 2018 Acuff Chair of Excellence, an endowed chair administered by CECA. Also in September, CECA’s Zone 3 Press will publish a new memoir entitled An Imperfect Rapture by Kelly Beard, the 2017 winner of the Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award. Finally, on September 27, there will be a free public lecture by internationally known painter Amy Sherald, who was recently commissioned for the official portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.


In addition to supporting the creation of new works of art, launching new publications, and bringing high-level guest artists to Clarksville, CECA also administers APSU’s Community School of the Arts (CSA). The CSA offers a variety of arts classes for children and adults, from beginning to advanced levels. Over 20 courses are offered per semester, such as digital photography, drawing, painting, ceramics, children’s choir, ukulele, ballet, modern dance, fiction writing, and improvisational acting. These classes fuel the mission of CECA and inspire students of all ages to get involved in the arts.


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