Interdisciplinary learning, creativity and research in the vanguard of digital virtual production and design is the vision for UNL’s Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.
A $20 million gift from the Johnny Carson Foundation, the charity of late entertainment icon and Nebraska alumnus Johnny Carson, will fund the center’s academic programs and facility.
The Carson Center will offer a unique interdisciplinary program in a new field of study: film and emerging media focused on virtual production and design. Virtual production is at the cutting edge of film, television, theater, game design and visual storytelling in other fields. Graduates will work in diverse professions, from advertising, the arts and business to agriculture, social media and science.
Hiring a director and staff, designing a facility and developing new courses are in the works. The program expects to accept its first students in 2018 and open a building in 2019.
“Johnny Carson was an innovator of television, which was certainly the emerging media of his era,” said Allan Alexander, Carson Foundation president. “Because of this and his legacy at Nebraska, we are especially pleased to support the education of future generations who wish to follow in his footsteps as media innovators.”
A Nebraska native, Carson graduated from Nebraska in 1949 with a major in journalism and a minor in physics. Through 30 years of success on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” he never forgot his Nebraska roots. Previous Carson Foundation gifts supported scholarships, the performing arts and the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.
The Carson Center will occupy a 31,000-square-foot facility near the Carson School. Designed for hands-on learning in virtual production, it will include design and editing labs, studios, a sound stage, classrooms and virtual reality technologies.
The center will engage campus partners, other universities and the private and public sectors through an emerging media arts symposium, master classes, internships and more.
“This gift ensures the university is able to prepare many future generations of students for careers in the ever-changing arena of media arts,” then-Chancellor Harvey Perlman said when announcing the gift in late 2015.
$20M gift to create Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts