The establishment of the Visual and Performing Arts Programme in 2013 can be traced back to the formation of the University of Botswana Travelling Theatre (UBTT) in 1982 by the department of English. The idea was the brainchild of Dr VCD Mtubani and it was fully supported by the then head of department, Prof. FW Mnthali. The UBTT became quite a popular group through its performance of plays to both campus and outside audiences as the group travelled to various parts of the country performing at schools, village community halls and even the kgotla. Some of its founding members are Maude Dikobe, Benjamin Janie, Peter Morapedi, Sheila Tlou, Edna Dambe, Mokgweetsi Masisi and Thulaganyo Mogobe. Realizing how much the public appreciated theatre, the department of English then designed some theatre courses to be offered as part of the English curriculum and simultaneously recruited staff qualified in theatre studies to teach the courses. The vision of the department, however, was to establish a theatre unit first and ultimately a department offering a full theatre programme. 

In 1995 that vision edged closer to realization through the commission of a consultancy to investigate the possibility of establishing  a department of visual, applied and performing arts at the university of Botswana by the then Dean of Humanities, Dr Brian Mokopakgosi. The consultancy recommended such establishment though offering a smaller range of disciplines than initially thought. Due to budgetary constraints, implementation could not happen until 2009 when Senate approved a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre Arts) programme to be offered under the Dean’s office, as the first within a department that is to offer theatre, music and visual art. Prof. David Kerr was subsequently appointed Founding Professor of the programme in 2010 pending the establishment of the department and the first cohort of BFA students enrolled in August 2010, graduating in October 2014. It is expected that other programmes of the department, that is, music and visual art, would be introduced in the next few years.

In pursuit of academic excellence