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 Olafur Eliasson, Maya Lin, Doris Salcedo, and Hank Willis Thomas; filmmakers Kristen Johnson, Kimberly Peirce, María Sojob, and Lucy Tulugarjuk; writers Douglas Kearney, Lewis Hyde, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Maggie Nelson; theatre artists Ayad Akhtar, Candace Chong Mui Ngam, Pablo Manzi, and Dael Orlandersmith; historians George Chauncey, Margarita de Orellana, and Mabel O. Wilson; designers Michael Arad, Walter Hood, and Meejin Yoon; curators Amalia Córdova, Cass Gardiner, and Denis Pernet; literary critics Homi Bhabha and Farah Jasmine Griffin; legal scholar Kendall Thomas; climate scientist Maureen Raymo; clinical psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison. In addition, the School of the Arts has spearheaded university-wide programming around issues of water justice and climate change; commissioned new work by Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra; mounted large-scale public installations by Daan Roosegaarde and Jana Winderen; presented readings of contemporary plays from Chile, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico, Palestine, Russia, Spain, Thailand, Uganda, and the UK; showcased theses by School of the Arts students; founded the annual Kit Noir Festival, and Lenfest Kids, a film screening series for families; hosted readings by New York City high school students who have produced original work with Writing students from Columbia University; and coordinated workshops on voice, theatre, and storytelling for the Obama Scholars and the World Economic Forum.

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.