WINSTON-SALEM – The all-new cinematic production of The Nutcracker by the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has been viewed more than 116,000 times worldwide to date – the largest audience in the 55 consecutive years UNCSA has presented the holiday favorite – and raised $230,394 in net funds for student scholarships, a pillar of Powering Creativity: The Campaign for UNCSA, Chancellor Brian Cole has announced.

The new UNCSA Nutcracker reached more than 7 times the previous record attendance of 16,528 during 12 live stage performances at the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem in 2019, and raised as much in net funds as past years raised through ticket sales.

“We are blown away by the incredible success of this year;s reimagined version of The Nutcracker  and grateful for our sponsors, donors and partners who helped continue the UNCSA tradition of raising crucial funds for student scholarships in connection with the annual production,” said Chancellor Cole. “Both the film itself and the virtual benefit event are examples of how UNCSA is finding creative ways to work within the confines of COVID-19 to provide relevant experience for our students, continue momentum with our fundraising efforts, and bring the arts to the world.”

Released on demand on Dec. 17, 2020, the film marked the first time UNCSA’s professional-caliber Nutcracker could be seen by audiences across the U.S. and beyond. It has been viewed 60,241 times online across the UNCSA website, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels, reaching people from 45 states and 46 countries. A partnership with PBS North Carolina (formerly UNC-TV) increased the reach within North Carolina through eight viewings during the holiday week, where it was seen by 52,100 viewers across the state, as well as an additional 3,595 viewers through streams on the station’s digital platforms. The film was also screened multiple times at RED Cinemas in Greensboro.

“We’re extremely grateful for the support of PBS North Carolina in helping bring this groundbreaking production to audiences throughout North Carolina, and to RED Cinemas for giving us the opportunity to present it on the ‘big screen,'” Cole added.

The Nutcracker film premiered on Dec. 12 as part of the Opening Night Scholarship Benefit, UNCSA’s first-ever livestreamed fundraising event, bringing donors, alumni and patrons from all over the world together in a social environment through a specially developed app. The event featured exclusive tributes from Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and N.C. Secretary of Natural & Cultural Resources Susi Hamilton, as well as other exclusive content, followed by the world premiere of the Nutcracker film. The benefit was attended by 1,201 households, potentially more than 4,800 individuals from 40 states and 84 cities in North Carolina, with 60% of the participants joining from outside of Winston-Salem, including audiences in Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, South Korea and Australia.

UNCSA Vice Chancellor for Advancement Edward J. Lewis III said: “We are deeply grateful for every donor who made this year’s innovative production of The Nutcracker possible, including our Angel Sponsor, who provided matching funds that encouraged others to financially support scholarships at UNCSA. We also extend special thanks to our Platinum Sponsors – the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and Malcolm and Patty Brown – and our Gold Sponsor, Tom Kenan. Each of the many donors who supported this effort made a vital investment in the educational journeys of our students.”

Conceived and created safely for the COVID-19 era, The Nutcracker was adapted for film through the imagination and expertise of the schools of DanceDesign & ProductionFilmmaking, and Music, while adhering to health and safety guidelines developed by the arts and entertainment industries during the pandemic.

Classical Voice North Carolina hailed the all-new Nutcracker, writing that it “demonstrated the inventive spirit and exceptional artistry characteristic of North Carolina’s top-ranked public arts conservatory.”

The Nutcracker is still available for on-demand viewing at, and on UNCSA Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram channels.