About the School of Fine Arts

Kenneth BoultonAs this past academic year draws to a close, I could not be more thrilled to be a part of this university and community, as we work towards cultivating a true center for the arts.  This is an extraordinary time for the arts at Northern State, with renovated state-of-the-art facilities, palpable faculty energy and a dynamic collaborative mission.


This past year saw a number of tremendous successes for our program, highlighted by substantially improved audience numbers and an exciting new partnership with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.  That was only the beginning, however, as each succeeding month saw an impressive array of concerts, productions, exhibitions, festivals and prestigious individual achievements – all of which reaffirmed Northern State’s deserved reputation as the premier arts destination in the upper Midwest.


I am proud of Northern State’s commitment towards providing a superior education in the visual and performing arts, where students develop their talents, refine their passions, and ultimately become leaders in their chosen fields.  We also succeed in creating an academic environment that encourages students to explore a multitude of artistic opportunities, wherever their talent leads them.  Truly, our students do it all!


I hope you enjoy the chance to look back on this spectacular past year, preview the exciting 2018-19 season and consider contributing to the School of Fine Arts’ growing base of support. As always, I look forward to sharing and celebrating our bright future with you.


Thank you so much for your support. If you're interested in supporting the arts, please call 605-626-2550.



Warm regards,


Dr. Kenneth O. Boulton

Dean, School of Fine Arts

Johnson Fine Arts Center

Johnson Fine Arts Center


The Johnson Fine Arts Center (JFAC) is home to one of the strongest music and theater departments in the midwest. JFAC is a valuable resource for the entire campus community, presenting and hosting more than 65 concerts and events during the year.

  • The auditorium hosts NSU student theater performances and concerts and community events
  • JFAC recently reopened upon completion of a $15 million remodeling project that included an expanded lobby area; renovated main theater with improved acoustics and new seating; new orchestra pit and shell system; new heating and cooling and fire suppression systems; and new lighting throughout.
  • New space includes a black box theater, four classrooms, art gallery, improved student practice rooms, faculty offices and studios, box office, coat check, entrance, expanded parking, and additional restrooms.
  • JFAC Parking and History
NSU Box Office

Buy tickets to NSU School of Fine Arts events through the Johnson Fine Arts Center Box Office. Discounts and special offers are available exclusively through the JFAC box office.

  • Hours: Noon-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday
  • Phone: 605-626-2900
  • Email: nsuboxoffice@northern.edu
  • Payment methods: Cash, checks and credit cards are accepted
  • The box office opens two hours before show time on performance nights. 

Johnson Fine Arts Center Gallery

Located off the vestibule, the JFAC Gallery was thoughtfully designed from the ground up to exhibit the work of nationally and internationally recognized contemporary artists, many of whom work on campus with NSU students through collaborations and technical workshops. The 1,000-square-foot gallery also is an exhibition space for student artworks and pieces from NSU's permanent collection. Please see the NSU Galleries Schedule for current exhibits.


Black Box Theater

JFAC's Black Box Theater is a 150-seat venue home to three season productions each academic year. An intimate space with the audience members as close as five feet from the action, the Black Box provides a basic, versatile performance area for musicals and operas as well as small cast shows. With overhead lighting and technical catwalks, this style of theater has become known for its "environmental" productions, with performers utilizing the entire space - from floor to ceiling.

Main Theater
Main Theater

A 1000-seat proscenium space, the Main Theater is the venue for the full season of orchestra and band concerts and one large musical production each academic year. Our musical events are all reinforced with a beautiful, cherry wood-grained Diva acoustical shell. Guest lectures and presentations are also a frequent occurrence in the theater. With a 600-square-foot, mechanized orchestra pit that can seat more than 30 musicians, the theater has been the venue for large musicals as well as more intimate theatrical pieces.

Art Facilities

NSU art facilities recently underwent a $1.4 million renovation. Students will find ample space and equipment to explore art education, design, art history, advertising design, computer and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, printmaking, and mixed media and fiber arts.


Spafford Studios

The spacious Spafford Studios area features natural light, hardwood floors, and spaces for design, drawing, and painting and printmaking labs; withsemi-private studio spaces for junior and senior art students.


Sculpture, printmaking, ceramics

The Spafford Studios are also home to the ceramics, sculpture and printmaking studio classrooms. The ceramics lab features four gas kilns and three large capacity electric kilns. The ceramics area features a generous work area with eight ceramics wheels.


The sculpture area features MIG welders, power equipment for woodworking, a bronze/metal foundry and well equipped hand tools.


The printmaking area features a Takach Intaglio press and Graphic Chemical Lithography press. The print lab offers traditional lithographic stones, tools for etching, relief and monotype methods, and technology equipment for digital printmaking.

Dacotah Hall Design Studio

Graphics and photography students will find that the newly renovated Dacotah Hall Design Studio features spacious graphics classrooms offering iMac workstations and professional Adobe Creative Cloud graphics software such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects.


The graphics area also features high-end printers and digital drawing and video production equipment, including Apple€™s Final Cut Pro editing software.


Photography, video

The Dacotah Hall Design Studio also offers a modern darkroom and chemical room, eight film enlargers and facilities for processing black and white film. Digital photography is well supported with cameras, iMacs and high-quality inkjet printers. Students will also find a state-of-the-art lighting studio with a green screen for video and digital imaging applications.

Former Faculty

At Northern, talented faculty will inspire you to grow as an artist and excel in your chosen passion. Our school has a long and illustrious history of influence in the arts of the region.