The Governor's School for the Arts is a center for innovation that develops excellence, nurtures creativity, inspires artistic vision and builds communities with a passion for the arts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I able to participate in GSA while being a part of a specialized, IB or Academy program?
It depends on the school district. Our graduates whose school district allows IB students to participate in GSA credited the experience of balancing both programs with much of their college and career success. If you have an acceptance from both programs, we encourage you meet with the IB coordinator and guidance counselor.
I don’t want to major in the arts. Why would I want to go to GSA?
GSA students have a variety of interests. For some, a career in the arts has clearly chosen them already, but many others have chosen to attend GSA because the arts are simply an important part of who they are. GSA supporters and applicants understand that an arts education experience trains the mind and the body in a way that can help all professions. Many of our alumni are involved in medicine, business, education, research, science, the military and many levels of administration and public service. All of our alumni have kept the arts as an active part of their lives as performers, active audience members, local arts supporters and advocates for arts education for their own children and families. They report that GSA helped them work together to achieve goals, finding the beauty and benefit of every situation, no matter how challenging it might seem at the time.
Am I able to play with both my home high school band / orchestra and attend GSA?
We encourage participation in every activity you find meaningful to your development. While it can be difficult to manage the demands of multiple ensembles, it is very beneficial to have input from several sources as you continue to grow as a musician. There are some conditions (schedule, diploma requirements, etc.) that might make participation in both musical lives impossible, but when it is an available option, we fully support it and try our best to work with directors to make every opportunity available to our shared musicians.
Does GSA have a marching band?
NO, but we fully support marching band as an important part of a musician’s total education. We have done our best to create individual schedules that can allow for participation during marching season. It has not worked for everyone, but when the passion is there to do both, we work hard to make it happen.
What would my schedule look like?
Every student has a schedule specific to the conditions that best suits their growth. As with many IB and Academy programs, classes can be quite specialized. At GSA, there are some classes that are one-on-one with a private instructor. There are also classes with only a few people who have selected to focus on a passion that they share with one of our instructors. The curriculum grows and adjusts with the needs of the students specific to that year. Classes meet from 1:00pm to 4:00pm or 2:00pm to 5:00pm, depending on the city. Each city provides bus transportation.
You are located in downtown Norfolk. Is that a safe place for me?
Downtown Norfolk is home to several arts partners, family businesses, large corporations, a college, the MacArthur Center mall and dozens of organizations that support a healthy and safe downtown experience. GSA students consider their campus to be a one-block radius between our building close to Urban Outfitters, the local coffee shop, Todd Rosenlieb Dance Center and Roper Theater. Instrumental Music students also have the opportunity to have their rehearsals at the nearby Robin Hixon Theater at the Virginia Arts Festival. We are very confident that our students gain a sense of independence in the downtown environment while under the watchful eyes of faculty, administration and a variety of Norfolk’s citizens who know GSA students and are willing to help at any time. Our students frequently cross paths with active city leaders while walking to class from the bus. “Hello, Mayor Fraim” is something many of our students have a chance to say. A revitalized and thriving Downtown Norfolk welcomes us with open arms.
Will I still be able to audition for regional orchestra, district band and other VBODA events?
YES. GSA is an active part of the VBODA and fully supports the great events the hard-working directors of our state provide every year.
Does GSA go on trips?
YES. Like many of your high school ensembles, we work hard to put together travel opportunities, recognizing that travel is one of the greatest encouragers of personal development. The GSA Instrumental Music department has been to Iceland, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, Poland, the Czech Republic, England and Japan. The GSA Musical Theatre department has travelled to Japan many times to perform and tour. All GSA departments have travelled domestically including to: New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Miami, and San Francisco.
I’m still not sure if GSA is something I should consider. What’s my next step?
We encourage you to attend one of our many performances and find us afterwards to ask questions in person. Each of our serving school districts schedule a Meet GSA night in the fall; listen to your school announcements for date, time and location or speak to your guidance counselor. For additional inquiries, you are welcome to send a message to any of our department chairs. Their contact information is below:
Jeff Phelps, Instrumental Music
Todd Rosenlieb, Dance
Chip Gallagher, Musical Theatre
Vic Frailing, Visual Arts
Alan Fischer, Vocal Music
Steve Earle, Theatre