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Kids benefit from partnership

Curriculum Development, Quality, Vocational Training

In 1990, President Steven D. Lavine of the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia established a program to give underserved youth ages 8 to 18 in Los Angeles County a chance to experience the arts in a college setting.

The goal was to take the innovative teaching style created by Walt Disney at CalArts and share it with children who otherwise may not get that opportunity.

The program — the
CalArts Community Arts Partnership, or CAP — provides 7,500 underserved, low-income students with arts education opportunities each year.

Under the leadership of director Glenna Avila, who has a passion for art, youth and community, the program is designed to cross socio-economic boundaries.

Avila also has an extensive background working with the city of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

“With the current budget cuts public schools are facing, after-school arts programs are being cut back or eliminated altogether,” Avila said. “CalArts CAP fills in the gap, taking arts education to kids living below the poverty line, who otherwise may never get that college opportunity.”

The CalArts CAP Program partners with more than 60 neighborhoods and 40 public schools, community centers and social service agencies throughout Los Angeles County, providing free arts education to underserved areas.

Sixty artist-educators from the CalArts faculty and 300 CalArts student instructors and alumni are the teaching force behind the CAP program, all with an emphasis on individualized attention to the student.

“It is all about giving the student exposure to the arts with as much individualized attention as possible,” Avila said. “The arts impact community development.”

The faculty consists of professional artists, with at least three years of teaching experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The CAP program also operates 52 free in-school, after school and summer arts education programs each year.

The program features a variety of art experiences including fine art, photography, printmaking, graphic design, digital media, animation, video, jazz, world music, play writing, chamber music, theater, puppetry, dance and creative writing.

CAP has received national honors including the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities Coming Up Taller Award.

The award was presented by then-first lady Laura Bush for the CAP effort to foster creative and intellectual development in children.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, the CalArts CAP program partners with the Boys & Girls Club in Newhall, Arroyo Seco Junior High School in Canyon County and Newhall Elementary School.

West Creek Academy in Valencia also partners with the CalArts CAP Program and hosts a music-infused curriculum for grades one through four, and a theater program for grades five and six.

The art forms included in the curriculum are dance/drum, piano, violin and vocal performance from cultures around the world.

“The idea — in addition to exposing the kids to the arts — is to teach vital skills such as listening,” Avila said. “The arts are simply a tool to teaching life.”

Avila said the West Creek curriculum gained some inspiration from Gustavo Dudamel, a native of Venezuela and the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, who also conducts youth orchestras using a music philosophy known as “El Sistema.”

The El Sistema program has used music ensembles to transform the lives of 300,000 kids from the poorest parts of Venezuela.

CalArts CAP has several venues throughout the Southland for youth to be involved, such as the public/private partnership with the city of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The CAP/Sony Pictures Media Arts Program for children ages 10 to 14 will be a celebration of animation.

The program is free and will teach students how to write, animate, direct and edit their own animated short films using the latest technologies from Sony Pictures Entertainment and artists from CalArts.

The grand finale will include a screening on the big screen of all the films created. The host site closest to the SCV is the San Fernando Gardens Community Service Center at 10896 Lehigh Ave. in Pacoima and runs 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays and Tuesday now through June 13.

CalArts CAP will also host a CAP Summer Arts Program 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays July 9-26.

Featured will be animation, creative writing, dance, digital filmmaking, music, photography, theater and visual arts.

Also on the CalArts campus in Valencia is a photography program 4 to 7 p.m. on Mondays and a digital-media program, which explores the worlds of video as well as T-shirt design, book creation and poster design, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.

The Signal, 09 March 2012


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