SFU Library Contemporary Arts collections policy

The School for the Contemporary Arts is committed to the study, production and promotion of contemporary art.  The school’s philosophy is that the practice of art, the doing and the thinking, cannot be separated.  All programs within the School combine theoretical and critical study with practical experience.  Theoretical and critical studies include the historical development of and the interrelationships among the arts and the relationship between art and the world within which it is made.  Practical experience is available within studio or laboratory courses, and students are encouraged to acquire additional practical experience by participating in extracurricular productions, exhibitions or performances.

The School offers BA, BFA and MFA degrees.  Major program areas include Art and Culture Studies (BA); Dance, Film, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts (BFA).  Extended minors are offered in all program areas, as well as minor programs in Art and Culture Studies, Fine and Performing Arts and Film and Video Studies.  In addition, the School offers a joint major in Anthropology or Sociology and Art and Culture Studies.

Two of the faculty hold joint appointments with Communication and Women’s Studies Departments.

The School’s course and research areas are:

Faculty Research:

Art and culture studies
Cultural history
Cultural policy
Cultural theories
Dance - analysis/ human movement analysis
Dance - anthropology, ethnology
Dance - ballet, modern dance
Dance - body therapies
Dance - choreography and performance Dance - costume design
Dance - dance studies
Dance - history & criticism, dance theory, aesthetics
Dance - music composition
Dance - technology
Dance - text based dance theatre
Film - comedy, documentary film making, dramatic feature films, third world film
Film - film & video directing and production
Film - feminist film theory and criticism
Film - history & criticism, film theory
Film - avant garde and innovative film & video production, independent film making
Film - sound design and scoring
Institutions, patronage, audiences
Interdisciplinary performance 
Music - acoustic communication, world soundscape studies
Music - acoustic theory, philosophy of music/sound/listening
Music - music composition
Music - conducting, contemporary music ensembles
Music - digital audio signal processing, interactive systems
Music - drumming & accompaniment, jazz, popular music
Music - electroacoustic music, computer music
Music - ethnomusicology
Music - history & criticism, music theory
Theatre - acting, playmaking, improvisation
Theatre - directing and production, dramaturgy
Theatre - history & criticism
Theatre - lighting design, stage design
Theatre - performance studies
Theatre - theatre management
Theatre - theatre music composition
Theare - 20th C. theatre, experimental theatre
Visual art - art and technology
Visual art - drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, image and text, video art
Visual art - feminist art theory and criticism
Visual art - gender issues, representation, cultural politics
Visual art - history & criticism, aesthetics, critical theory
Visual art - installations, public art
Visual art - performance art, mixed media works
Writing - fiction, poetry, script writing, editing, screenplays

Undergraduate Courses:

Dance Program

Emphasis is given to contemporary dance technique, composition and experimentation.   Courses are offered in fundamental body work, ballet, history and criticism, and movement analysis.  Course offerings include:

  • Ballet
  • Contemporary dance
  • Dance composition
  • Dance improvisation
  • Dance movement/analysis
  • History of dance: origins to present
  • Integration of human movement
  • Performance studies

Film Program

The film program provides a balance of creative, technical and analytical studies.  Film and video production courses emphasize the creation of original work as well as the acquisition of technical skills.  Film history and theory courses familiarize students with the aesthetic and social issues surrounding contemporary film and video practice.

  • Cinema in Canada
  • Directing and Acting for film and video
  • Film sound
  • Film theory
  • Filmmaking
  • Fundamentals and techniques of film
  • History and aesthetics of cinema
  • Screenwriting
  • Selected topics in film and video production
  • Techniques of video
  • Video production

Music Program

The music program offers options in composition, electroacoustic music, world music or interdisciplinary collaboration.  Courses in music history, theory and criticism provide a balance to the studio courses.  The emphasis is on composition and interdisciplinary performance.

  • Computer music composition
  • Contemporary music analysis and criticism
  • Contemporary music performance
  • Electroacoustic communication
  • Electroacoustic music
  • Gamelan
  • History of music: 18th century - present
  • Music composition
  • Music theory
  • Selected topics in music
  • World music

Theatre Program

The theatre program offers either a performance stream or a production and design stream. The performance stream offers studio courses, supplemented by courses in dramatic literature, theatre history, playmaking and technical theatre.

  • Acting
  • Context of theatre
  • Directing - theory and practice
  • Playmaking
  • Stage and production management
  • Stage design and lighting
  • Theatre performance
  • Technical theatre
  • Theatre production technology

Visual Art Program

The visual art program prepares students to become practising artists.  Studio courses are supplemented with history and theory courses.  An emphasis is placed on understanding current developments in visual art and other disciplines, and the position and responsibility of the artist within contemporary society.

  • Contemporary theory in the arts
  • Drawing (studio)
  • History of art: Renaissance - present
  • Interdisciplinary work
  • Issues in spatial presentation
  • Painting (studio)
  • Painting - history - 20th C, Canadian, U.S., European, Asian
  • Performance art
  • Photography (studio)
  • Production technology
  • Sculpture (studio)
  • Selected topics in visual art
  • Video production

Art and Culture Studies

The Art and Culture studies program builds on the interdisciplinary foundation of the School for the Contemporary Arts.  It offers courses on contemporary issues in art and culture as well as historical and theoretical topics.

  • Arts, audience, patronage, institutions
  • Issues in the Fine and Performing Arts
  • Contemporary theory in the arts

Graduate Courses:

The interdisciplinary MFA program provides an advanced level of training in the fields of music, dance, theatre, film and visual art.  Its goals are the furthering of cross-disciplinary research, technical skill and artistic creativity, and the development of critical awareness of the relatedness of the arts.  Courses include seminars and studio courses, as well as a graduating project.

The School has chosen not to focus in these areas:

  • Film - animation, commercials
  • Music - classical music performance, voice training, pre 17th C music history
  • Theatre - classical and pre 17th century theatre history and performance
  • Visual art - printmaking, graphics, architecture, commercial art, ceramics, crafts, pre- Renaissance art history

Collection Development Responsibility

Collection development is primarily the responsibility of the Fine and Performing Arts Liaison Librarian.  Liaison with the School for the Contemporary Arts is maintained through the Departmental Representative as well as with other faculty members when required.  Regular contact with other liaison librarians and teaching departments is nurtured through the sharing of relevant information and materials.

SFU Resources

The WAC Bennett Library is the major location for the University's fine and performing arts book and journal collections.  In addition, there is a circulating collection of art slides and sound recordings and a small home use video collection.  Music scores are kept with the general book collection in the Bennett Library.

The Instructional Media Centre (IMC) on the Burnaby campus, has a collection of 16 mm films and videos which are licenced for classroom viewing.

The Praxis Centre for Screenwriters, in downtown Vancouver, has a reference library of film scripts and other materials related to film production and studies.

Regional Resources

The University of British Columbia has extensive print collections in the Fine Arts and Music Libraries, as well as strong retrospective book and journal collections to support dance, film and theatre studies. UBC Music Library recordings do not circulate. The slide collection is not available for use outside of the Fine Arts Dept. at UBC.   The Wilson Recordings Collection, a small circulating collection of CDs and LPs, is no longer active.

The Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design has a good general art history collection and a strong collection of print and audio-visual materials on 20th century artists, including art exhibition catalogues, films, videos and slides.  The slides are not available for loan.

The Vancouver Art Gallery library has a non-circulating collection of books, journals and artists files, with an emphasis on Canadian artists, as well as a slide collection available for loan by the general public, for a small fee.

The Vancouver Public Library has a large Fine Art and Music Department, with a circulating collection of music CDs, music scores, and feature film and performing arts videos.  Burnaby Public Library also has a circulating collection of music CDs and feature film videos.

Pacific Cinematheque in downtown Vancouver has a reference library of film related materials.  Video In/Video Out in Vancouver has a video resource centre and archives, and handles distribution of artists’ videos.  The Canadian Music Centre in Vancouver has scores and recordings available for purchase, and will loan or copy scores for music performances.

Consortia and Document Delivery

SFU belongs to three consortia: Electronic Library Network (ELN); Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL); and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL).  Document delivery agreements exist with all three of these consortia which allow delivery of journal articles and books from participating libraries in a timely manner.  Library holdings and direct requesting from over 40 libraries are accessible through the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) web page and from many databases, including the Art Index and Humanities Index.  Print materials may be borrowed or photocopied from participating libraries through ILL services.  In addition, the Instructional Media Centre is a member of the Media Exchange Cooperative (MECC), which facilitates the borrowing of films and videos from other libraries in the lower mainland.

General Collection Guidelines

Languages: Primarily English and French.
Chronological guidelines: Primarily Renaissance to present day.
Geographic guidelines: Primarily Western Europe and North America.  Contemporary artists and performers working in the Pacific Rim, Asia, Africa, and other regions are also of interest.
Types of materials: Primarily split between books and journals.  The library also collects sound recordings, music scores, selected home use videos, and visual art slides, to support the curriculum.  There will also be an increasing emphasis on electronic journals and web resources.
Date of publication: Emphasis is on current publications.  Retrospective acquisitions are of interest for important titles and backfile issues of journals.
Coordination and cooperation with other campus resources: Films and videos which are licenced for classroom viewing (public performance rights) are located at Instructional Media Centre (IMC).  Over the past 10 years, the library has purchased some public performance films and videos which are held at IMC.  The IMC film and video catalogue is available for searching from the Library KIOSK. The SFU Art Gallery receives art exhibition catalogues from selected galleries; the catalogues are donated as gifts to the Library.  The Bennett Library is also on a direct mailing list for donations from some galleries.
Other factors for consideration: The School for Contemporary Arts offers some art and music history and theory courses and art studio classes in downtown Vancouver.  Slides and music recordings must be borrowed from the Burnaby campus for use downtown.  The School is actively looking for a site for a new building; some of the sites being considered are in downtown Vancouver.  Such a move must consider the impact on library resources and use.

Subjects and Levels of Collecting

 Definitions of collection levels are derived from the American Library Association's Guide for Developing Collection Policy Statements, 1989. Collection levels will be applied after the subject categories have been determined.

Subject descriptors

Subject categories (descriptors) have been taken from Blackwell's Book Services Approval Plan Subject Thesaurus and the Library of Congress Subject Headings.  These subject descriptors are guidelines to determine which books or forms are sent on approval to the Library

Other subject categories may be added as required.

There are currently no approval plans set up for the purchase of music recordings, music scores, performing arts videos or fine arts slides, which are obtained by individual orders or donations.


 Fine arts - general works (SA: aesthetics)
 History of art - general works, surveys

  Primitive art - general works (SA: Modern art - primitivism)
  Rock art
  Cave painting
  Primitive masks
  Primitive totems
  Primitive utensils
  Primitive body ornaments

  Magdalenian art
  Hunter style art
  Second hunter style art
  Paleolithic period art
  Mesolithic period art
  Neolithic period art
  Megalithic period art

  Scythic art
  Polynesian art
  Micronesian art
  Melanesian art
  Indonesian art
  Early Australian art
  Maori art

  Primitive African art - general works
  Ethiopian & Sudan art
  West Coast African art
  East Coast African art
  Central African art
  South African art
  North African art

  Native American art - general works
  Native American art - designs and motifs

  Pre-Columbian American art - general works
  Eskimo art
  NW Coast Native American art
  Plains Indian art
  Great Lakes Native American art
  Southwest Indian art
  East Coast Indian art

  Latin American art - general works
  Archaic Mexican art
  Mayan art
  Zapotec art
  Toltec art
  Aztec art
  Inca art
  Amazon region art
  Fuegian art
  Period of conquest art

  Egyptian art - general works
  Old Kingdom Egyptian art
  Middle Kingdom Egyptian art
  New Kingdom Egyptian art
  Saite art
  Ptolemaic art

  Western Asiatic art - general works
  Early Babylonian art
  Assyrian art
  Neo-Babylonian art
  Persian art
  Seleucid art
  Parthian art
  Sassanian art

    Islamic art - general works
    Early Islamic art
    Abbasid period art
    Persian pre-Mongol art
    Spanish art
    North African art
    Mesopotamian art
    Persian Mongol art
    Syrian art
    Turkish art
    Art of Asia Minor
  Modern Arabian art

  Western art tradition - general works
  Thracian art
    Greek art - general
    Cycladic art
    Minoan art
    Mycenean art
    Homeric Greek art
    Archaic Greek art
    Classical Greek art
    Hellenistic period art
    Etruscan art

    Roman art - general works
    Early Roman art
    Classical Roman art
    Christian Roman art

  Byzantine art
  Medieval art
  Celtic art
  Carolingian art
  Ottonian art
  Romanesque art
  Gothic art
  Late Gothic art
  Renaissance art - general works
  Early Renaissance art
  High Renaissance art
  Northern Renaissance art
  Mannerism art
  Baroque art
  Rococo art

AMERICAN ART (SA: Native American art)
  Colonial American art
  Western American art (pre-19th C)

CANADIAN ART - general (pre-19th C)

MODERN ART  (Art from ca.1800- on)
  Modern art - general works
  Neo-classic art
  Romantic art
  Realist art
  Primitivism (Modern art)
  Impressionist art
  Post-impressionist art
  Pre-Raphaelite art
  Victorian art
  Art nouveau
  Art movements ca. 1860-1935 (Incl. Art Deco, Arts & Crafts)
  Futurist art
  Expressionist art
  Fauvist art
  Constructivist art
  Cubist art
  Abstract art
  Dadaist art
  Surrealist art
  Other special modern art

  Contemporary art - general works
  Action painting
  Junk sculpture
  Happenings as art
  Performance art
  Pop art
  New realism art
  Minimal art
  Op art
  Color-field painting
  Shaped canvas art
  Psychedelic art
  Light art
  Conceptual art
  Formal art (includes computer-generated art)
  Video art
 Other contemporary art

   Russian art - general
   Pre-Christian Russian art
   Byzantine Russian art
   Medieval Russian art
   Moscow period Russian art
   Socialist-realism art

   Indian art - general
   Modern Indian art
   Pakistani art - general

   Chinese art - general
   Prehistoric Chinese art
   Sang-Yin art
   Chou Dynasty art
   Ch'in Dynasty art
   Han Dynasty art
   Six Dynasties art
   Sui Dynasty art
   T'ang Dynasty art
   Five Dynasties art
   Sung Dynasty art
   Yuan Dynasty art
   Ming Dynasty art
   Ch'ing Dynasty art
   Modern Chinese art
   Chinese Republic art
   People's Republic art
   Chinese writing
   Other Chinese art

 Korean art - general
 Southeast Asian art - general

   Japanese art - general
   Early Jomon art
   Middle Jomon art
   Late Jomon art
   Yayoi art
   Great Tombs art
   Asuka art
   Nara art
   Heian art
   Kamakura art
   Ashikaga art
   Azuchi art
   Tokugawa art
   Meija art
   Modern Japanese art
   Japanese writing
   Other Japanese art

 Landscape art
 Botanical art
 Portraiture  (not photography)
 Ornament & design
 Still life

   Life art - general
   Human figure in art
   Animal figure in art
 Erotic art

  (SA: Islamic art; Western art tradition)
   Iconography (Use also for non-religious works)
   Jewish art
   Buddhist art
   Other religious art
     (For art of a particular region see terms above)

 Folk art (SA: Primitive art; Modern art - Primitivism)


 Illuminated manuscripts (See: Book decoration)
 Other art by type

 Art media - general
 Mixed media (Art)

   Painting (Art form) - general
   Oil painting
   Water color painting
   Acrylic painting
   Tempera painting
   Other forms of painting

   Drawing - general
   Ink drawing
   Pencil drawing
   Charcoal drawing
   Crayon drawing
   Pastel drawing
   Other forms of drawing

   Printmaking - general
   Stencil art
   Poster art
   Other forms of printmaking

   Sculpture - general
   Sculpture by material used
     Stone sculpture
     Clay sculpture
     Plaster sculpture
     Bone sculpture
     Ivory sculpture
     Terra cotta sculpture
     Wood sculpture
     Metal sculpture
     Wire sculpture
     Cast metal sculpture
     Welded metal sculpture
     Concrete sculpture
     Other sculpture by material

   Sculpture by form
     Relief sculpture
     Mobiles & stabiles
     Sculptured monuments
     Other forms of sculpture

 Arts & crafts - general
 Tole painting
 Art metalwork
 Jewelry & jewelry making
 Furniture design
 Carpets & tapestries
 Weaving (Art form)
 Textiles (Art)

 Other arts & crafts
 Crafts for children

 Book design

Created by CG. Last updated by TM 09/18/00.