The Missouri Fine Arts Academy (MFAA) is a three-week summer residential program for highly motivated student artists in visual arts, theatre, dance, creative writing, and music. The Academy offers an intensive schedule of classes in interdisciplinary and discipline-specific arts, and a wide range of co-curricular activities. MFAA is conducted with the support and cooperation of Missouri State University, and is funded through program fees, grants, endowments, scholarships, and private donations.
The concept of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy grew out of an interest in providing an opportunity and level of support necessary to challenge, motivate, and empower Missouri's most talented arts students to become future state arts leaders. In 1994, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requested that the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education convene and fund an Arts Academy Advisory Committee to visit and assess governor's schools for the arts in four different states. States visited include Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Following the onsite visits, a plan was developed that proposed a residential, state-affiliated academy designed to provide outstanding students in the arts an opportunity for in-depth study in a chosen arts discipline. During the 1995 legislative session, the arts academy concept was accepted and its funding approved.
During the summer of 1995, the DESE mailed requests for proposals to manage the academy to all colleges and universities in Missouri. Later, six sites were visited by a review team, and Southwest Missouri State University was selected as the location for the first fine arts academy, which was scheduled to take place in June and July, 1996. Dr. David Belcher, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at the time, served as coordinator of the Academy, and Amy Muchnick, professor of Music, served as site lead teacher.