Pioneering public-private arts partnership exemplifies how schools and organizations can unite to provide free college-level educational opportunities for youth.
Valencia, CA, July 27, 2009--In 1990, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Community Arts Partnership (CAP) first offered college level arts education free of charge to the youth of Los Angeles County. Now, two decades later, CAP  has trained over 200,000 young artists, many from some of the city's most disadvantaged neighborhoods; opened pathways leading its students to college and careers in the arts; and in the process, created a national model for arts education partnerships.
As today's dwindling state and local resources put public education at risk, CAP exemplifies the public-private unions envisioned by President Obama's National Art Policy Committee--partnerships able to step into the breach and provide high-quality arts instruction in communities that would otherwise remain underserved.
Visionary educator, Glenna Avila, the Wallis Annenberg Director of CAP, has led the program from its inception--when CalArts first partnered with the Los Angeles-based Watts Towers Arts Center and Plaza de la Raza--making CAP among the first college-community arts programs in the United States. Now, this groundbreaking nationally recognized program is linked with 41 partner organizations at locations throughout Los Angeles County ranging from Los Angeles Unified School District schools to community arts centers and social service agencies in neighborhoods stretching from the Santa Clarita Valley to Wilmington and from Venice to East Los Angeles.
"CAP has created an environment where both small and large miracles can happen," affirms Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Creating art in a nurturing setting has sparked the imagination of thousands of students, including my own daughter. Two decades later, CalArts' partnership with local organizations is an example of what we can accomplish working together."
Throughout its 20 year history, CAP has provided a model for collaborations and reciprocal partnerships. The organization brings the resources of CalArts--a teaching corps of faculty, student-instructors and alumni--into partnerships with community organizations, social service agencies and public schools in order to deliver college-level arts education to youth between the ages of 10 and 18.
"We at CalArts," says President Steven Lavine, "see CAP as absolutely integral to our core mission, which is to insist on the vital role of the arts in our society, and to create a learning environment for artists who will go on to make work that truly matters to the state of our culture."
Some 60 CalArts faculty members and nearly 400 student-instructors teach CAP courses and workshops each year. CAP's individual programs, now numbering 49, cover areas such as fine art, photography, printmaking, graphic design, digital media, animation, video, chamber music, jazz, world music, chamber music, theater, puppetry, dance, and creative writing.
Many CAP students are the first in their family to attend college--with some continuing on to CalArts where they in turn become CAP instructors. "The CAP legacy comes full circle when former CAP students become teachers and impart their knowledge to the next generation of young artists in the program," says Glenna Avila.
Now, 20 years since it began, CAP effects change in the lives of youth beyond its city of origin. This summer, a group of students from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro are attending CAP's arts program at Inner-City Arts in downtown Los Angeles and, in Seoul, South Korea, former CAP student instructor Anthony Caropino-Corbett is starting a program based on the CAP model.
CAP has received numerous awards--including the John Anson Ford Human Relations Award from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations in 2008, the Ovation Award for Community Outreach from the Los Angeles Stage Alliance in 2006 and the Coming Up Taller Award, in 2004, for outstanding community arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America's young people.
CalArts is recognized internationally as a leading laboratory for the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Housing six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater--CalArts educates professional artists in an intensive learning environment founded on art making excellence, creative experimentation, cross-pollination among diverse artistic disciplines, and a broad context of social and cultural understanding. CalArts also operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.