California Institute of the Arts

California Institute of the Arts

name =California Institute
of the Arts
native_name =
latin_name =
motto =No information in advance of need

established =1961
type =Private
endowment =US$ 91,751,992
staff =
faculty = 308
president =Steven D. Lavine
Provost =Nancy J. Uscher
Associate Provost =John Bache
Tuition =$31,290 in 2007-2008
principal =
rector =
dean =
head_label =
head =
students =1,334
undergrad =821
postgrad =513
doctoral =
city =Valencia
state =California
country =United States
campus =Suburban, 60 acres/.6 ha
free_label =
free =
mascot =
nickname =
affiliations =
website =
The California Institute of the Arts, commonly referred to as CalArts, is located in Valencia, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. CalArts is authorized by the state of California to grant Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in the visual, performing, and literary arts.

A school created by Walt Disney in the early sixties and staffed by a very alternative and psychedelic array of professionals [cite book | last = Rushkoff | first = Douglas | title =Media Virus: Hiden Agendas in Popular Culture | publisher = Ballantine Books | year = 1995 | pages = 102| id = ISBN 0345397746] , CalArts provides for a collaborative environment for all sorts of artists. Students are free to develop their own work (over which they retain control and copyright) in a workshop atmosphere, as respected members of a community of artists in which authority must is constantly tested and where teaching works through persuasion rather than coercion. Inter cultural exchange among artists helps in practicing and understanding of the art making process in the broadest context possible.


CalArts was initially formed through the merger of the Chouinard Art Institute (founded 1921) and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music (founded 1883). Both of the formerly existing institutions were going through financial difficulties around the same time, and the founder of the Art Institute, Nelbert Chouinard was also becoming fatally ill. It was through the impetus of Walt Disney, who found and trained many of his studio artists at Chouinard (including Mary Blair, Maurice Noble, and some of the Nine Old Men, among others), that was responsible for coordinating the merger of the two institutions, along with his brother Roy and Lulu Von Hagen.

The institute was started as Disney's dream of an interdisciplinary "Caltech of the arts," it was incorporated in 1961 as the first degree-granting institution of higher learning in the United States created specifically for students of both the visual and the performing arts. [cite book | last = James | first = David E. | title =The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinema in Los Angeles | publisher = University of California Press | year = 2005 | pages = 206| id = ISBN-10 0520242580] The founding board of trustees originally planned on creating CalArts as a school as an entertainment complex, a destination like Disneyland, and a feeder school for the industry. [cite web | url= | title="Interview with Tom Lawson, Dean of CalArts School of Art, January 2007 ] In an ironic turn of fate, they appointed Robert Corrigan and Herbert Blau, two progressive artists, as the president and provost of the newly founded institute. Subsequently, both were instrumental in hiring a number of professionals drawn from the counterculture and avant garde like Mel Powell, Jules Engel, Paul Brach, Alexander Mackendrick, Allan Kaprow, Bella Lewitzky, Michael Asher, John Baldessari, Judy Chicago, Miriam Shapiro, and Douglas Huebler.

The ground-breaking for CalArts' current campus took place on May 3, 1969. However, construction of the new campus was stifled by torrential rains and labor troubles of every variety. So, instead the “new” school began its first year in the buildings of Villa Cabrini Academy, a former Catholic girls’ school on the edge of downtown Burbank. CalArts moved to its present campus, in the Valencia section of the city of Santa Clarita, California, in November 1971. The institute has remained funded through the ongoing contributions of Walt Disney and his family, who provided funding for the ongoing operation of this school in his will. The campus is located on McBean Parkway, which has a direct connection to Interstate 5.

Recent developments

Beginning in the summer of 1987, CalArts become the place where the state-funded California State Summer School for the Arts was held. It began as a program to nurture talented high school students in the fields of animation, creative writing, dance, film and video, music, theatre arts, and visual arts. CalArts expanded on the concept by creating the Community Arts Partnership in 1990. While CSSSA is open to qualifying California students, CAP, as it's commonly known, is a service provided to students living within the Los Angeles County school system. Many CalArts faculty and students mentor students in both programs.

Over the years, the school has also develop on-campus, interdisciplinary laboratories, such as theCenter for Experiments in Art, Information, and Technology, Center for Integrated Media, Center for New Performance at CalArts, and the Cotsen Center for Puppetry and the Arts.

In the year of 1994, Herb Alpert, a professional musician and admirer of the institute, collaborated with CalArts with his non-profit foundation to establish the Alpert Awards in the Arts. While the foundation provides the award for winning recipients , the school's faculty in the fields film/new media, visual arts, theatre, dance, and music select artists in their field to nominate an individual artist who is recognized for their innovation in their given medium. Recipients of this award are required to stay for a week as visiting artists at CalArts and mentor students studying their metier. In 2008, CalArts renamed the School of Music in his name, courtesy of a $15 million dollar donation.

In 2003, CalArts established a performance arts theatre in downtown Los Angeles called REDCAT at the Roy and Edna Walt Disney Concert Hall.

In 2008, two students, Fernando Vasquez and Alex Calle, created and opened CalArtsMafia, a student driven website, to help connect current students and alumni while aiding in future collaborations and creations.


CalArts offers degree programs in music, art, dance, film and video, animation, theater, puppetry, and writing. Its specialization is in interdisciplinary, contemporary art, and its stated mission is to create artists who will change their field. The Institute also encourages students to recognize the complexity of political, social and aesthetic questions and to respond to them with informed, independent judgment. [cite web | url= | title=CalArts Statement for cite web | url= | title=The Alpert Award in the Arts ]

Disney's Vision

The primary concept behind CalArts' interdisciplinary approach came from Richard Wagner's idea of Gesamtkunstwerk ("total artwork"), which Disney himself was fond of and explored in a variety of forms, beginning with his own studio, then later in the incorporation of CalArts. He began with the classic Disney film Fantasia (1940), where animators, dancers, composers, and artists alike collaborated together. In 1962, Walt Disney Imagineering was founded, where Disney integrated artists from his animation studio and elsewhere, as well as formally-trained engineers, and achieved creative critical mass in the development of Disneyland. He believed that the same concept that developed WDI, could also be applied to a university setting, where art students of different mediums would be exposed to and explore a wide-range of creative directions. Disney, himself, has stated of his memorial school:


Admissions to CalArts is based solely on the applicant's creative talent. The school does not review an applicants SAT scores without consent, and does not consider an applicant's GPA as part of the admission process. As far as academic scrutiny goes, the faculty only cares to see if the applicant has graduated with an High School Diploma/GED or Bachelors Degree prior to applying for admissions. However, every school in the Institute does require that applicants send in a Artist's statement, along with a portfolio or audition (depending on the program) in order to be considered for admission. Additional requirements may apply, depending on the specifics of each program. Although it varies by program, CalArts typically only accepts between 20-35% of applicants.


Schools and degree programs available at CalArts include:

* School of Art: Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Photography and Media

* School of Critical Studies: MFA Writing, MA in Aesthetics and Politics, MFA Interschool Degree, Integrated Media (MFA)

* The Sharon Lund School of Dance: Various Dance Programs

* School of Film/Video: Film and Video, Experimental Animation, Character Animation (BFA), Film Directing (MFA)

* The Herb Alpert School of Music: Composition, Composition New Media (MFA), Performer/Composer, Performer/Composer: African American, Improvisational Music (MFA), Music Technology (BFA), Performance, Musical Arts (BFA), World Music (BFA and MFA)

* School of Theater: Acting, Directing (MFA), Writing for Performance (MFA), Puppetry (MFA), "Design and Production": Costume Design, Lighting Design, Producing (MFA), Stage Management, Production Management (MFA), Scene Design, Sound Design, Technical Direction, Scenic Painting, Props Management (MFA).

Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology

CEAIT, the Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology, exists as a coalition between interested faculty and students at CalArts to help with the creation and presentation of new work and research involving technology and the arts. Recent and past works are presented on the programs's website, and through a number of sponsored concerts and installations at CalArts, REDCAT and other venues. It also sponsors, when possible, guest lectures and visiting artist residencies.

CEAIT has for its resources, the electronic music studios of the School of Music including B303 (electronics/hardware lab), B304 (digital sound and technology studio), B305 (multimedia classroom and computer/video studio), and B307/B308 (the Dizzie Gillespie Recording Studio). These facilities are built around powerful Macintosh, Dell and Compaq workstations which run the Mac OS and Windows operating systems. Studios are outfitted with a great variety of music, sound, multimedia and graphics software, including some developed by CalArts faculty and students.

Important contributors to the center include David Rosenboom, Morton Subotnick, and Mark Coniglio.

Notable alumni, faculty, and visiting artists

*List of California Institute of the Arts people

chool councils

tudent Council

Student Council is a student organization with leadership by democratically elected representatives, including 5 officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Trustee) and 12 senators (including 2 reps from each school). Their primary purpose is to function as a liaison between the Board of Trustees, the administration, faculty, staff and students. The Student Council uses an annual budget, gathered from the student activity fee, of approximately $80,000 to fund receptions, independent student projects, the campus radio station and television channel (KCIA), student magazines, and some student parties such as Halloween and the Spring Fashion Show. The council also has representatives on various committees and councils at CalArts. The council holds informal weekly meetings during the school semester that are open to the entire campus.

Deans Council

Deans Council is the weekly meeting of the deans of each school or division within the Institute, together with the President and Provost, a representative from Academic Council and a representative from Student Council.

Academic Council

The Academic Council consists of faculty representatives from the schools and library who meet weekly to discuss academic and curricular matters throughout the Institute. The Student Council Vice-President attends Academic Council meetings and represents students' opinions.

See also

*The 1 Second Film
*Walt Disney Modular Theater
*Pixar University
*Serge synthesizer


Further reading and listening

*(1970) California Institute of the Arts: prologue to a community, Art in society; v.7,no. 3. Madison, Wisconsin. University of Winconsin Press.
*Hertz, Richard.(November 30, 2003) Jack Goldstein and the CalArts Mafia. Minneola Press.
*Economic Research Associates. "A historical Summary of Cal Arts," July 13, 1967.
*Real, James. "When You Wish Upon A School" in West.1972
* [ The Institute of Words & Picture]
* [,M1 Sunshine Muse: Art on the West Coast, 1945-1970 By Peter Plagens]
* [ Guide to the California Institute of the Arts Collection]
* [ The Politics of Culture: CALARTS]
* [ John Kesley Architect-photo]

External links

* [ CalArts website]
* [ REDCAT website]
* [ Main Gallery website]
* [ CalArts Mafia]
* []
* [ Baxton Benefit Auction]
* [ CalArts Photos]
* [ 2007 CalArts Feminist Art Project]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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