The community at Black Mountain was forged as much in the beautiful rural isolation of its location in Black Mountain, North Carolina (the college moved from its original campus, the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly, to the shores of Lake Eden in 1941), as by the progressive values of its founders. When they arose, issues were resolved via community meetings of faculty and students. Both students and faculty were responsible for general maintenance, including the serving of meals, which were eaten communally in the dining hall. Unusually for schools of the period, Black Mountain admitted men and women. Equally progressive, and perhaps a little shocking in the context of further education today, students at Black Mountain were responsible for their own education. Each student designed their studies with an advisor and no letter grades were awarded (this was later changed in order to facilitate the transfer of credits but students were still not made aware of them).
Although it was not exclusively devoted to the arts, Black Mountain emphasized the importance of the study and practice of the arts in a liberal education. They formed a core part of the curriculum rather than being offered as extracurricular courses, which was more commonly the case.