FACE Class Provides First-Year Students Skills to Navigate Life as an Artist

Meadows’ First-Year Arts Community Experience (FACE) class provides dual-admit students a semester-long orientation developed specifically for today’s artists.

The First-Year Arts Community Experience class listens to a guest speaker.
Students in the First-Year Arts Community Experience class hear from a variety of guest speakers throughout the semester, many of whom are Meadows alumni.

Freshmen or first-year students at the university level are typically expected to take part in orientation programs before embarking on their educational journey with the institution. Here at Meadows, that one-time orientation is expanded into a semester-long course developed specifically for today’s artists.


Launched in 2010, Meadows’ First-Year Arts Community Experience (FACE) class is now an integral experience of SMU students enrolled in the divisions of art, dance, film, music and theatre. The course was originally designed as a space for students in dual-admit disciplines to learn to work together and find common ground among different forms of artistry. It provided a designated space for new Meadows students to get to know each other and start to form connections, both creative and social, that could lead to artistic collaborations during their time at SMU. Now, thirteen years after its launch, the course has grown to include career preparation and development so Meadows students are equipped to embark on an artistic career path post-graduation.


Two students collaborate in the First-Year Arts Community Experience class.


Throughout the semester, students learn from many guest speakers, like local and national arts professionals as well as Meadows B.F.A. alumni, where they can gain real-world insight into what it means to be an artist and have the opportunity to ask them questions about their field and experience. It also allows them to start establishing helpful connections with individuals who have developing and existing reputations in the arts, allowing students to develop their networking skills and build personal and professional relationships that can last a lifetime.


“Meadows has amazing alumni and faculty who generously give their time in FACE class and beyond to help our students develop their talents and abilities,” says Gretchen Smith, Associate Dean for Students and one of the leaders of the FACE class this semester. Hearing from alumni who have been in their shoes helps students to understand the concept of artists as entrepreneurs and to define their own personal goals for success.


Another highlight of the course is the class visit to SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center with Assistant Dean for Alumni and Career Success Timmie Hathorn, who leads the visit and describes the various opportunities available to students through Hegi. This aspect of the FACE class is designed to help students better understand the ecosystem of opportunities at their fingertips, both at SMU and beyond.


Between the resources, connections, and community the FACE class provides, it is clear this collaborative, cross-disciplinary course is a cornerstone for arts students who have chosen to make Meadows their home.


First-Year Arts Community Experience students listen to a lecture.