Stage and screen names Thomas Salzman new department head

Thomas M. Salzman, past chair of the performing arts department at the College of Santa Fe, recently joined Western Carolina University as head of the stage and screen department.

Tom Salzman

Tom Salzman

“We are excited about the wealth of knowledge Tom brings to Western, from his extensive experience in the professional world as a lighting designer, general manager, production manager and artistic director, to his experience in higher education as a teacher and administrator,” said Robert Kehrberg, dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. “We offer the best of both worlds to our students when our CEO in stage and screen brings professional reality to the classroom and curriculum.”

Salzman (pictured), a native of Brecksville, Ohio, earned his bachelor’s degree in theater arts in 1982 and his master’s degree in lighting design in 1989, both from Carnegie Mellon University.

His theater experience includes working as general manager and artistic associate for the Caldwell Theatre Company in Boca Raton, Fla., where he was responsible for a $2.2 million budget and tasks such as negotiating artist contracts and marketing. Also at the Caldwell, he served as artistic director for an outreach series that focused on creation of new plays and designed the lighting for more than 70 productions, two of which won Carbonell Awards for Best Lighting Design.

“Lighting designers try to move the eye of the audience to where the director wants them to look, just as a filmmaker might zoom in for a close-up or out for a long shot,” said Salzman.

His experience in higher education includes teaching at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Miami, where he was head of design and production from 1991 to 1997. At the College of Santa Fe, where Salzman was chair and associate professor in the performing arts department, he developed classes including “Theatre: Arts, Audience and the Critic” and an interdisciplinary class in playwriting that incorporated the theater, motion pictures and creative writing departments.

His interest in the connections between stage and screen attracted him to WCU’s merged department.

“The next generation of theater and film artists and technicians will need to be prepared to work in a variety of mediums,” said Salzman. “My primary goal for the next five years is to truly integrate stage and screen in a way that is unique to training programs in the country – in our productions and in our teaching methods and paradigms.”

WCU’s stage and screen department is a signature program of the College of Fine and Performing Arts, the only such college in the University of North Carolina system, and home to theater, dance, and motion picture and television production programs. In partnership with the School of Music, the department also offers the musical theater program. For more information, call (828) 227-7491 or check out the Web site for the stage and screen department.