An unprecedented gift of $6 million from newspaper publisher and philanthropist David C. Copley will endow a chair and an innovative new center for costume design at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT). The center will be the first of its kind in the world.
The permanent endowment will support the establishment of both the David C. Copley Chair for the Study of Costume Design, to be held by an internationally renowned designer and scholar, and the David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design, which will further scholarship in the field through research, coursework and a program to bring in leading professionals as visiting faculty.
Costume design is recognized as one of the premier arts of theater, film and television. It is inseparable from character; costumes literally shape the characters seen on stage and screen. For actors, costume is the primary conduit to their character.
“Costume designers are first and foremost storytellers,” said Robert Rosen, dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television. “They are full creative partners in art forms that are intrinsically collaborative, and academic recognition of that fact is overdue. All of us at TFT are very proud indeed that Mr. Copley has chosen UCLA as his partner in this pathfinding enterprise.”
“The artistry of costume designers has long been a vital part of storytelling in the cinematic and performing arts and deserves significant scholarly attention from a great educational institution such as UCLA,” Copley said. “I’m delighted to help the field move forward with this gift. I’m confident it will pay dividends for scholars and practitioners for many years to come.”
The David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design will work toward three pioneering objectives:
• Becoming the world leader in the academic study of costume design — an institution that crosses media boundaries and enhances the already top-ranked traditional costume program at UCLA with a bold new focus on film, television and digital media.
• Preparing graduates for career and artistic success through a balanced curriculum of theory and practical experience, as well as mentorship from the most accomplished practitioners in the world.
• Establishing an approach that will unify theory and practice in the area of costume design through the research and study of the cultural significance of costume, its relationship to aesthetic theory and, most importantly, the role of costume as a centerpiece of narrative and storytelling.
The establishment of the Copley Center for the Study Costume Design will break new ground in academia and help secure the school’s future preeminence in this artistic endeavor.
Areas of study will include the history of costume design in Hollywood, genre research, costume illustration as an art form and explorations of the influence of costume design on fashion and culture.
Philanthropist David C. Copley is the publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune and chief executive officer of its parent company, the Copley Press Inc. He is vice president of the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and is a noted collector of contemporary art, including works by Christo and Francis Bacon. In addition, Copley has a notable collection of film costume sketches from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, long recognized as a leader in the field, brings together in a single integrated program the arts of theater, film and television. UCLA’s reputation as an outstanding training ground for the theater, film and television professions and for critical scholarship is based on its long tradition of fostering creative growth, encouraging experimentation and ensuring artistic freedom. Many of the most respected names in the entertainment and communication arts and the world of scholarship are UCLA alumni.