About Us

Completing its twentieth anniversary year in 2018, the Canadian College of Performing Arts is extremely proud to be a unique training institution offering the highest level of performing arts instruction with a national scope and vision. Through our training programs, performances and alumni successes, the College fosters development, education, and appreciation of the performing arts in British Columbia, Western Canada, across the nation, and internationally.

Mission & Values


To offer the highest quality of training in a broad spectrum of skills which will prepare the students for careers of excellence in the performing arts locally, nationally or internationally.

To provide a stimulating, positive and constructive environment where students are encouraged to develop high standards of work ethics and conduct which will serve them in any field of endeavour in their future.


To create a versatile, well-rounded performing artist with a strong professional work ethic.

In particular, to continue to offer unique training programs in Canada where students can develop their performance and career management skills under the close supervision and guidance of highly qualified professional teachers, mentors and theatre artists.

The Penelopiad, 2018 | photo credit Peter Pokorny

Program Highlights

rehearsal for This Little Light, 2016 | photo credit Peter Pokorny

All three programs offer a conservatory-style performing arts curriculum to students who seek intensified skill-based alternatives to longer academically-oriented university programs.

• Intense exposure to acting, voice & dance
• Private coaching and tutorials
• Instruction in career management
• Faculty, staff, & guest artists are working professionals
• High number of teaching and rehearsal hours
• Less than 3:1 student/faculty ratio
• Numerous performance opportunities
• Collaborations with professional companies
• Opportunities to create your own work
Individualized curriculum tailored to you
Professional mentorships in writing, directing, choreography, production, design and more

TWO-YEAR PERFORMING ARTS DIPLOMA offers advanced instruction in the disciplines of acting, voice and dance with a focus on career management.

ONE-YEAR PERFORMING ARTS CERTIFICATE is designed for working professionals or students with relevant post-secondary training who wish to upgrade their skills with a customized program.

The APPLIED PERFORMING ARTS DIPLOMA provides graduates of the above programs a unique opportunity to expand their repertoire and business acumen as they produce three shows as a Studio Ensemble, guided by established guest directors.


Spring Awakening, 2015 | photo credit David Lowes

The Canadian College of Performing Arts was founded in September 1998 as a private, post-secondary training institution. Created by co-founders Jacques Lemay and Janis Dunning, the College was born out of their highly successful three-month summer training and performance program, Spirit of a Nation, which originated at the Confederation Centre for the Arts in Charlottetown, and toured nationally throughout its existence.

The College was established as a multi-disciplinary training institution, with an equal focus on acting, dance, singing, and career management training. From its initial offering of a single- year Performing Arts training program, the College quickly grew to offer an optional second continuing year in 1999. In 2005, a third program, the “Company C” Studio Ensemble, was created as a practical four-month program for graduates of the second year program to work as an arts collective, producing three shows in a professional working environment under the direction of nationally acclaimed Canadian directors.

Lemay and Dunning were the College Directors for twelve years, until their retirement in 2010. The College was then managed by Ron Schuster as College Director and Darold Roles as Artistic and Education Director from 2010 to 2017. Under their leadership, the two one-year programs were amalgamated to create a two-year Enriched Performing Arts Diploma, and a one-year Certificate in Performing Arts program. This program was created for professional artists and graduates of a degree program who wanted a year of intensive practical training. The “Company C” Studio Ensemble was expanded to its current length of twenty-one weeks, allowing for continued training, workshops, and mentorships, in addition to its core curriculum of three productions. The College also solidified an accreditation process, creating a path to university transferability for graduates of the Enriched Performing Arts Diploma and the “Company C” Studio Ensemble programs to obtain a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree.

Middletown, 2018 | photo credit Peter Pokorny

Every year since its inception, the College has enjoyed strong competition for student entrance, due to the excellent teaching standards of the faculty, the national and international successes of its graduates, and the respect earned by alumni in the performing arts industry. As one of the most uniquely focused conservatory style training programs in western Canada, the College has graduated well over one thousand students, and has brought hundreds of artists together in collaboration as coaches, educators and trainers. Having an institution like the College in Victoria BC, national in its scope and ambition, is a rare gateway for emerging Canadian artists to find success in the professional performing arts industry.

The College completes its 20th season and graduating class led by a new management team: Managing Artistic Director Caleb Marshall and Director of Education and Programming Heather Burns. Together they bring leadership that is deeply rooted in the institution, while embracing the current and emerging priorities of the evolving landscape of the performing arts industry.

Artistic Vision

The College’s vision is built on education and artistic excellence and community. We maintain the highest standards to attract elite faculty that produce graduates of exceptional caliber. As a leading educational institution adaptive to the evolving priorities of the professional industry, we prepare graduates to be highly employable active artistic leaders.

Our philosophy revolves around our belief that the art is a practical craft and business that can be taught with a clear methodology. Our curricular goal is to provide students with advanced practical skills while making them aware of their own creative agency through rigorous training and fostering enthusiasm for their personal process of self-discovery. We value cross-disciplinary study, knowing that if students do not explore a breadth of human experience they lose insight as artists, and therefore encourage integration and examination of the training in all aspects of their lives. The curriculum is built on equal respect for all disciplines, and on the principle that collaboration and community are the essence of theatre.

While there will always be an element of subjectivity in assessing art, by establishing clear goals and expectations, and promoting initiative and critical thinking, we encourage students to develop a discerning eye towards self-assessment. We foster a need for emotional investiture and bravery in a safe, supportive, risk-taking environment.

Our aim is to prepare students for the rigors of a professional career with the knowledge that talent, passion and ambition will only prevail if matched by dedicated work ethic, private practice, and the utmost professionalism. We measure success by preparing a student to be a motivated self-employed business and inspired artist whose voice will illuminate the human condition when they confidently enter the profession.

The College has made an increased commitment to Canadian content inclusion, requiring students to have a foundational Canadian repertoire. Committing to the Pledge Project, we acknowledge that educational institutions with a large proportion of female students need to ensure their voices are being served with an increased proportion of female playwrights and directors.

It is essential we engage students in a diverse dialogue openly exploring issues of race, gender, politics and sexual orientation. The conversations impacting the industry ensure graduates are more equipped to navigate being a Canadian artist. Students who are highly skilled in acting, voice, dance and career management are prepared to enter the profession. Students who are engaged in gender equity and identity, inclusion, accessibility, cultural appropriation, truth and reconciliation, safe spaces, and welcoming diverse voices and practices, are prepared to be cultural leaders, not just participants.

The relationships developed among the strong network of alumni have a lasting impact, creating connection to artists across the country. The commitment to community, volunteerism, and an equitable environment strives to create thoughtful engaged creative citizens who are advocates not only for their own careers but for the under-represented in their communities, and view the trajectory of their art as a commitment to the essential existence of theatre in our society.