Imagine and Create a More Inclusive World Through the Arts

Majoring in the arts and fine arts is a fantastic path for the creatively inclined. An education in the arts offers a rigorous exploration of the various forms of human expression. It ensures that you’ll learn the techniques and histories of your chosen mediums. Whether you want to pursue a professional career in the fine or performing arts or build the foundation of a life-long hobby, majoring in fine arts is a satisfying experience. 

Students of color have long offered important perspectives on and contributions to this field, from the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement and beyond. They have added many great landmarks, monuments, paintings, recordings, movies, fashions, and architecture to the American landscape in applying their talent — and you can follow in their footsteps.

The Need for More Black Americans in Arts Disciplines

A 2020 report indicated that Black Americans are less likely than other groups to participate in the arts as they are defined by Eurocentric history and tradition, in part because these definitions are so culturally narrow. This simple fact — along with many other racial inequities in arts professions — highlights the fact that the need for more Black voices in arts industries is not just a matter of diversity by the numbers, but a critical requirement for enriching our cultural landscape and fostering social change.

Claflin dance students rehearsing

Claflin College

Why Representation Matters 

Representation in the arts can be empowering for both current and future Black artists, in part because it gives individuals the agency to define their own narratives and cultural identities. This is essential for challenging racist perceptions in art and popular culture as well as for creating space for more inclusive art forms, disciplines, and traditions. By joining and becoming known in arts professions, Black artists also encourage wider communities to examine, develop, and celebrate their own ideas regarding Black identity.

Art as Activism

Although it is certainly not limited to this purpose, art can serve as a powerful form of activism, providing a platform for Black artists to engage with social issues and inspire change. Improving Black representation in the arts can be the catalyst for building more meaningful relationships between arts organizations and Black communities, challenging institutions and patrons alike to rethink their long-held practices and assumptions

The fruits of these relationships can not only make the public more aware and appreciative of Black art and artists, but can also result in more inclusive arts education curricula, from grade school through higher education. Both art education and art as a form of activism have enormous potential to engage young people and their communities and to advocate for greater degrees of social justice.

Fields Within the Arts

The arts is a large field of study with many subdisciplines and media. Some of the more popular branches include:

  • Fine Arts: “Fine arts” refers to art created for aesthetic purposes. Whether your preferred medium is painting, drawing, or sculpture, a program in the fine arts will teach you the history and techniques of museum-worthy art.
  • Performing Arts: “Performing arts” refers to art created for a live audience. This includes dance, music, drama, stand-up comedy, and other types of performance art.
  • Design: This field of art is inherently practical, merging the aesthetics of traditional art with the necessary functions of an object. Designers aim to create objects, tools, interfaces (such as websites), and interiors that are beautiful, intuitive, and useful.

Whatever your interest, students who plan to pursue careers in these fields will need to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in art or in the fine arts. Such programs include a wide range of related course subjects, such as:

  • Ceramics
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Foreign languages
  • Graphic design
  • Art history
  • Theater
  • Stage design
  • Sculpting
  • Music theory
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Western art

HBCUs Can Help You Start a Career in the Arts

Given the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action in college admissions, more Black students are likely to turn to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for their education. In response, these institutions will do everything they can to meet increased student demand. HBCUs help more students earn college degrees, compete successfully for well-paying jobs in competitive career fields, improve workforce diversity, and increase upward economic mobility.

People of all ages, races, and life paths can help to improve diversity in American arts disciplines by supporting scholarships and other forms of funding for HBCUs with related programs. You can make a difference in the lives of arts students in one easy step by making a donation today.

Careers in the Arts

Naturally, many who major in the fine or performing arts will pursue traditional careers as painters, sketch artists, and sculptors, or actors, dancers, composers, and musicians. However, a degree in art will also prepare you for other professions, including:

  • Art teacher
  • Video editor
  • Interior designer
  • Art therapist
  • Art director
  • User experience (UX) designer
  • Multimedia artist or animator
  • Director
  • Set designer
  • Creative director
  • Fashion designer
  • Stage manager

Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer degrees in the fine and performing arts? Looking for help with financing this degree?

Click Here so We can Help You!

How to Prepare for Success

Aspiring artists should routinely practice their techniques within their chosen medium. They should be interested in the overall history of their medium, both in the US and abroad. Finally, artists should consider the future of their discipline in an increasingly digital world. 

Needless to say, artists should be creative and expressive, but also resourceful. They should be excellent communicators, team players, and networkers, and should be prepared to function in supporting roles as well as those in the spotlight. They should also seek advice and guidance from arts professionals.

Aspiring artists should routinely practice their techniques within their chosen medium.

Xavier Carroll, Tougaloo student and art project

Xavier Carroll, Tougaloo student

UNCF Schools to Consider

These UNCF-member schools and others offer programs for students wishing to work in the arts:

Professional Organizations

There are numerous organizations in various arts that offer more insight into working in those fields. A sample list includes:

Tougaloo College Choir

Tougaloo College


There’s no better way to start on your path toward a successful career in the arts and fine arts than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF, including some specifically for fine and performing arts majors. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements. 

Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study the arts.

As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in the arts. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!

Those with the means to do so can also show their support for students pursuing careers and furthering equity in the arts by contributing to UNCF member schools. Education is the greatest tool we have in creating a just and equitable society where economic mobility is available to all. Help us achieve this future by donating today!