Why CalArts

From the Office of the President

Steven D. Lavine

Ranked as America’s top college for students in the arts by Newsweek/The Daily Beast, California Institute of the Arts has been an internationally recognized pacesetter in educating professional artists for nearly 45 years. Offering rigorous programs in the visual, performing, media and literary arts, our six schools house an exceptional creative community—and deliver an educational experience unlike any other.

CalArts students make art around the clock in a fast-paced, forward-looking environment with the guidance of a faculty of professional artists and thinkers who are each at the leading edge of their respective fields. Our mission is to nurture artists whose work matters to the state of culture today, and who have the skills and drive to launch effective careers—creative careers that can help shape the life of our local, national and global communities.

As first envisioned by Walt Disney, our founding concept was to bring different art forms together and allow them to cross-pollinate, to inform and inspire each other, side by side. The goal of this process has always been to elevate creativity, encourage new collaborations, and spark artistic innovation. We stand by this vision now more than ever. The artistry being carried out at CalArts encompasses an exhilaratingly diverse range of practices and cultures as our students expand the time-tested forms of each discipline—and go on to chart altogether new pathways.

The CalArts educational philosophy is based on close collegial interaction between teachers and students—in class, in production and in one-to-one mentoring. This approach combines rigorous instruction with individualized attention, geared to encourage students to define their own personal objectives, and then develop and refine their distinctive artistic voices. Given more creative freedom than at liberal arts colleges or traditional art schools and conservatories, our students—who are admitted primarily based on their artistic abilities—are uncommonly self-motivated and fiercely committed to producing art, design, dance, film, music, theater, writing, and any number of hybrid forms: They are here because their work is what they love to do every day, beginning on day one of school.

During the economic crisis of the last years, we at CalArts have carefully managed our resources so that we can always best serve our students. We recognize the significant commitment a CalArts education represents for students and their families, and we are equally committed to ensuring the quality of this education. We have kept our faculty intact and expanded academic offerings to stay abreast of emerging practices. Importantly, we have continued to increase student financial aid, and are seeking every professional opportunity for graduating students to begin productive careers after school.

CalArts is now more deeply connected than ever before with professional creative communities at the national and international levels—thanks to our acclaimed ensembles, productions, exhibitions and publications, our global roster of visiting artists, our ongoing partnerships with schools and arts institutions abroad, and adventurous programs presented at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in downtown Los Angeles. Our students also regularly take part in festivals, conferences and exchanges around the world, building important professional relationships with their international counterparts. Closer to home, the nationally emulated Community Arts Partnership (CAP), an alliance between CalArts and scores of community groups and public schools, delivers arts education programs to underserved Los Angeles youth while at the same time providing our student instructors with valuable teaching experience and an additional source of income.

CalArts today is making one of the most thoroughgoing attempts of any arts college to place the education of artists in a mutually strengthening ecology that links campus, community and the broader world. We are striving toward a new synthesis of student and professional, learning and creating, local and global, as our graduates continue to make and remake the very future of the arts.

Dr. Lavine has been president of CalArts since 1988. He serves on the boards of Idyllwild Arts Foundation, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), and the Villa Aurora Foundation for European–American Relations, and advises other arts and education groups. He has co-edited, with Ivan Karp, two collections on the poetics and politics of public culture.

Last edited by dthatt on Oct 22, 2012
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