WATERLICHT, a site-specific, large-scale light installation, by Daan Roosegaarde, presented at the Lenfest Center for the Arts on the evenings of October 22, 23, and 24, 2019.
© Joel Jares

Columbia University School of the Arts’ Lenfest Center for the Arts is a dynamic hub for cultural and civic exchange in Upper Manhattan. Featuring four flexible venues and a public plaza, this state-of-the-art facility offers unprecedented opportunities for the presentation and generation of contemporary art and ideas across disciplines.


From readings and installations to performances, screenings, and symposia, the vibrant array of activity at the Lenfest Center for the Arts aims to strengthen local partnerships while highlighting contemporary scholarship, global perspectives, and compelling voices of our time.


Recent guests to Columbia University School of the Arts include visual artists Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson, and Carrie Mae Weems; filmmakers Trey Ellis, Amandine Gay, Greta Gerwig, and Laura Poitras; writers Richard Ford, Douglas Kearney, and Patti Smith; theatre artists Oskar Eustis, Raeda Taha, and Julie Taymor; composers Vijay Iyer, Missy Mazzoli, and Him Sophy; journalists Jelani Cobb, Chenjerai Kumanyika, and Touré; historians Romi Crawford, Kellie Jones, and James Naremore; neuroscientist Richard Axel; theorists Fred Moten and Astra Taylor; landscape architects Walter Hood and Kate Orff; clinical psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison; and curator Paola Antonelli. In addition, the School of the Arts has spearheaded university-wide programming around issues of water justice and climate change; organized residencies with visiting artists Joan Jonas, Young Jean Lee, and Rebecca Solnit; and hosted readings by New York City high school students who have produced original work in collaboration with young artists from Columbia University.

Staff Leadership

Carol Becker

Dean of Faculty, Columbia University School of the Arts


Jana Wright

Dean of Academic Administration, Columbia University School of the Arts


Melissa Smey

Associate Dean and Executive Director


Gavin Browning

Director of Public Programs and Engagement


Lauren Weigel



Brendan Regimbal

Director of Production and Operations


Jack Lynch

Production Manager


Natasha Norton

Audience Services Manager


Rebecca Plunkett

Production Manager/Lighting

The Building

The Lenfest Center for the Arts was made possible by a gift from Trustee Emeritus H.F. (Gerry) and Marguerite Lenfest, leading patrons of the arts. Mr. Lenfest (LAW ’58, HON ’89), 1930–2018, served on the boards of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Curtis Institute of Music.


Columbia University School of the Arts recognizes Manhattan as part of the ancestral and traditional homeland of the Lenni-Lenape and Wappinger people. By acknowledging legacies of displacement, migration, and settlement, we are taking a small first step toward the long and overdue process of healing and repair. The School of the Arts continues to confront and address issues of exclusion, erasure, and systemic discrimination through ongoing education and a commitment to equitable representation.


The School of the Arts will continue to confront and address issues of exclusion, erasure, and systemic discrimination in our community through ongoing education and responsible representation. As a School, it is essential that we foster a truly creative environment where all are seen, heard, represented, and understood, so that our artists can focus their energy on doing what they are called to do: to hold a mirror up to society to interpret the world as they see it, while helping humanity envision a better future.

Contact Us


[email protected]


Mailing Address:

Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 West 129th Street
New York, NY 10027

Columbia University School of the Arts

Columbia University School of the Arts awards the Master of Fine Arts degree in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts and Writing and the Master of Arts degree in Film Studies; it also offers an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts. The School is a thriving, diverse community of talented, visionary and committed artists from around the world and a faculty comprised of acclaimed and internationally renowned artists, film and theatre directors, writers of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, playwrights, producers, critics and scholars.


The first new buildings on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus came to life during the 2016-17 academic year—the beginning stage of a sustainable urban design that will unfold over decades. The campus will provide innovative spaces for teaching, pioneering research, artistic expression, and the shared human experiences of a great city defined by openness and diversity. Read about Columbia University's Community Commitments at neighbors.columbia.edu.