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The School of Visual & Performing Arts' roots can be traced back to the Port Elizabeth Art School which first opened its doors in 1882 – making it the oldest surviving school of arts in the country.
The original PE Art School was housed in the historical Athenaeum Building in Belmont Terrace. Many decades later in the 1950’s, when the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University) was established, it was housed in Bird Street. 

Now, the campus has been repurposed as an Arts Hub. The historic buildings on this campus are home to the School’s postgraduate programmes, a visual arts incubator, and the Eendrag Building (formerly the historic Fleming House) which houses the Bird Street Gallery. This beautiful building provides wonderful fine art gallery spaces for exhibitions as well as drawing studios for the Department of Visual Arts' students.