Center for the Creative Arts

Mission Statement

The primary focus of the Austin Peay State University Center for the Creative Arts is to provide a substantive and well-rounded education by engaging faculty, students, guest artists and members of the community in art, creative writing, music and theater, The Center for the Creative Arts has a twofold mission:
  • To support the creative arts in the university, the local community and Southeast region by sponsoring the creation, presentation, study and research of significant and distinctive works of art.
  • To provide an enriched environment conducive to the development of individual understanding and basic literacy in the creative arts disciplines through curricular and co-curricular arts education designed to meet the needs of the general university student, the arts major, the general public and the professional artist.

Goals and Objectives

  • To encourage and actively promote the highest standards of creativity, performance, education and research in the creative arts and to instill in the university community an awareness of the creative arts' important role in the enrichment of the human spirit.
  • To contribute to and enrich the cultural climate of the state and the Southeast region through development of the creative arts.
  • To contribute to faculty development by sponsoring faculty projects in the creative arts and by providing for release time for research and study.


The Center for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University (APSU) in Clarksville, established to promote the creative arts in Tennessee, reflects the lively interest in the arts in the community, state and region. The center builds on the University's distinctive music, creative writing, art and theater traditions by promoting a variety of more than 100 musical productions, recitals, concerts, theater performances, poetry readings and art exhibitions annually.

The center builds upon the existing creative arts faculty and commissions artists with regional, national and international reputations to create works of art to be presented by center faculty, students and visiting artists. These works and works of historical value are presented in traditional and expanded environments. In conjunction with the Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence, regionally, nationally and internationally recognized authors, musicians, artists, actors and teachers are brought to the center as artists-in-residence.

Center-sponsored curricular activities include classes, lectures, workshops, seminars, master classes, symposia and public school outreach focusing on various arts disciplines and the interdisciplinary nature of the arts. This includes faculty research in the creative arts, with research being defined as scholarly and creative achievement. The center also funds undergraduate scholarships and graduate assistantships for students in the creative arts.

Notable achievements include the center-produced literary magazine, Zone 3, one of the leading poetry journals in the country. Zone 3 sponsors an annual poetry competition which has drawn over 2,000 entries annually, some from around the world. Final judges for the competition have included premier American poets such as Marine Kumin, Howard Nemerov and Carolyn Kizer.

This European style, 600- Seat concert hall and theater, located in the center's $9.4 million music and mass communication building, greatly enhances the aesthetic and acoustic quality of performances.

Facilities and Collections

A major achievement of the center was completion of its music/mass communication building. In addition to the concert hall shown on the previous page, the building houses the center, the Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence and other music and communication programs. The Trahern Fine Arts Building houses a smaller theater and two art galleries. The Larson Drawing Collection is housed in the newly restored historic Harned Hall.

Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence

The Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence in the Creative Arts has allowed students and the community to share the expertise of regionally, nationally and internationally acclaimed artists in a dynamic atmosphere of unrestricted experimentation. One-year recipients of the chair have worked individually with students and faculty, and with the community through lectures, seminars, concerts, musicals and exhibits. In a Quiet Voice, a coffee table-type book of photography and writing of students, faculty and guests who worked with Ted Orland when he was the chair, was published in 1989. The book focused on the Tennessee Valley Authority's Land Between the Lakes.

Honored recipients of the Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence have included playwright Arthur Kopit, writer David Madden, photographer Ted Orland, composer Ron J, Nelson, Columbia University emeritus professor of theater Howard Stein, poet and essayist John Haines, visual artist Jim Nutt and music educator Timothy Gerber.

Educational Enrichment and Professional Development

The center, continually supportive of teacher development and arts education, works with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Tennessee Department of Education in coordinating and sponsoring workshops in the arts for professional development.

In 1995 the center, in partnership with Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools, was selected as one of 14 teams nationwide to attend the Performing Arts Centers and Schools: Partners in Education institute at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D,C., where partnership teams explored methods for planning, implementing and administering programs to develop teachers' knowledge of the arts and empower them to use the arts in their classrooms.

A jointly sponsored Artists in the Schools Program with the APSU Department of Art sends local artists into Clarksville/Montgomery County Schools at all grade levels on a rotating basis each year to further expose children to the visual arts while providing professional development for classroom teachers. The center also co-sponsors A Fine Arts Field Trip with the Mid-Cumberland Arts League, which brings approximately 1,500 area fourth graders to campus annually for a day of arts enrichment.


Community education and outreach are central to the center's mission. Programs and performances produced or presented by the center are open to the public, and many contain audience education components. Additionally, the center cooperates with community organizations to promote the arts, sustains outreach programs to public schools and surrounding rural communities, and supports the National Standards for Arts Education.