Spotlight on Education: The Studio & Forum of Scenic Arts

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Continuing our series on education, today we look at The Studio and Forum of Scenic Arts. The Studio and Forum of Scenic Arts is a three-year vocational school located in the beautiful Hudson Valley in Newburgh, New York. The Studio is dedicated to teaching students the skills needed to work as a professional Scenic Artist in the entertainment industry.

Students Nickolas D’Annunzio, Jocelyn Joyah Henry, Reilly Miller, Alyssa Accardo, Kerrilyn Mcdonald, and Angela Marie Alvarez

Studio Origins

The school was founded by Joseph Forbes, who is the owner of Scenic Art Studios, which shares the studio space with the school. Scenic Art Studios provides backdrops for theatre, working on many of the shows which go to Broadway. Having these two organizations in the same working space allows students to have an up-close look at what goes into producing backdrops. Each semester consists of 13 five-hour Studio classes on Saturdays with instruction in the foundations of scene painting. Students will learn about light and color theory, layout, handling of paint and other scenic materials, and methods of reproducing master paintings. In addition to the Studio classes, Forum seminars will be offered each semester.

The goal of the program is to keep the traditions of scene painting alive via training. In the age of digitization we want to ensure that the old methods don’t disappear from disuse, as those methods still have many things to teach us. A beautiful hand-painted/hand-sculpted product has a special magic onstage.

Instructor Joseph Forbes

Unique Program Features

The Studio & Forum of Scenic Arts is a part-time school, offering classes on the weekend so that students may continue to have jobs in or out of the industry or to continue their college study during the week. Many students have to interrupt their coursework for personal or financial reasons and are welcome to resume in a later semester. The Studio is set up to offer projects in a series so that a student may pick up where they left off. The school allows students to proceed at their own pace, especially at first, to learn how to become a Scenic Artist. Later on, time limits may be applied as the student is ready for them. The pace of the curriculum is entirely driven by the individual student. Students start as fine art majors, as novice Scenic Artists, as workers from other industries, as retirees looking for a new course, or as persons looking for a new challenge.

Cost and Length of Program

There are 2 semesters a year and while it is a 3 year program, many students take the course on a semester-by-semester basis. The School also offers a series of seminars on special topics, mostly through the summer. Tuition is $1800 for a 13 week semester. There is an additional materials fee of $125 plus a non-refundable fee of $50. There are no scholarships offered at this time; they do offer a financial break to Studio Assistants who take care of the setup and breakdown of the class.

Left, student Wooster Kseniya. Right, instructor Jane Snow

Faculty and Instructors

Joseph Forbes, Founder; Website Bio

Jane Snow; Website Bio

Irina Portnyagina; Website Bio

Richard Prouse; Website Bio

Degree or Certification

The program is set up to give students instruction in painting scenery in the traditional ways and in some cases to prepare students to get into the Scenic Artist Union Local 829 ( We have no certification program. (Some say we are certifiable, though!)

Contact Information for Future Students

Check out their website at and their Facebook page, The Studio and Forum of Scenic Art: .

We encourage interested people to become members of their Facebook Group to get notifications of upcoming classes and events. They also like to share scenic tips, articles, and cool stories.

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