|Culver City Academy of Visual and Performing Arts|
4401 Elenda St.
The Culver City Academy of Visual and Performing Arts or AVPA is a multidisciplinary arts education program at Culver City High School in Culver City, CA. It was founded in 1996 by Jim Knight and D.B. Hovis, and its current Executive Director is Dr. Tony Spano, Jr. and Artistic Director is Carol Zee. The first classes for AVPA began in the fall of 1996.
According to the official AVPA website, the mission of the AVPA is as follows:
Culver City High School's Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA): An innovative and challenging arts education program that empowers students and inspires a compassionate, creative community.
As of the academic year 2018-2019, the following areas of study (majors or primary departments) are being offered by AVPA:
- Visual Art (Susan Grieder, Creative Director)
- Film (Holly Gable, Interim Creative Director)
- Music (Dr. Tony Spano, Creative Director)
- Theatre (Lee Hanson, Creative Director)
- Technical Theatre (Edward Rehr, Creative Director)
- Dance (Carol Zee, Creative Director )
Diplomas & coursework
Diplomas are awarded by AVPA at an annual graduation ceremony following a student's successful completion of a course of study. Each program maintains its own diploma requirements, and offers both a major and a minor in its discipline. Students are required to complete a combination of classroom coursework and hours working on projects, productions and performances with classmates to receive diplomas; credit can also be earned through independent study, student internships, and professional work on a case-by-case basis.
AVPA employs approximately 25 faculty members, mostly on a part-time basis, to teach workshops and seminars on various subjects and direct students in projects and productions. Their level of education ranges from the undergraduate to the doctoral level, and most faculty have additional professional experience in their field.
Enrollment in AVPA remains open to Culver City High School students and other CCUSD students enrolled in the district. Each department requires an audition, interview, and/or student portfolio review for admission.
According to its website, AVPA has sent alumni to a diverse range of post-secondary institutions. Many students have continued their studies at conservatories and art schools such as Art Center College of Design, Cal Arts, Art Institute, Otis College, Academy of Art University, and the Los Angeles Film School. Other alumni have attended schools outside of California, including Boston College, Boston University, Duke University, New York University, Vassar College, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of Pennsylvania. Several alumni have attended or are currently attending the University of Southern California. The CSU system and the UC system have also enrolled AVPA alumni at several campuses.
The AVPA enjoys the support of numerous community benefactors, receiving both monetary and in-kind aid from a variety if organizations. Included below is a non-comprehensive list of AVPA sponsors:
- Nonprofit Organizations
- AVPA Foundation
- Culver City Education Foundation
- Surdna Foundation
- Fineshriber Family Foundation
- Educational Institutions
- Local Cultural Organizations
- Local Businesses
Achievements and press
AVPA has received coverage from the local press and has received awards from arts organizations on the local, regional and national levels. Kristine Hatanaka has been named "Mentor Teacher of the Year" by the Ryman program and has received the CCUSD-wide "Sony Pictures Entertainment Teacher of the Year" award. Dr. Tony Spano was named a finalist in Region 8 of the 2003 California League of Schools' "Teacher of the Year" competition. Dr. Spano was also named "Sony Pictures Entertainment Teacher of the Year" for CCUSD in May 2016. Both current executive directors are recipients of the SURDNA Arts Fellowship. Many students have won individual awards for their art-making, including YoungArts.
The Music program's instrumental and choral ensembles attend festivals every spring; they frequently garner "Excellent" and "Superior" ratings. The Sound Recording and Composition program has released several CDs of student-performed (and mostly student written) works. The various ensembles of the music department, including the Chamber Singers, Drumline, Percussion Ensemble, String Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Jazz Combos, frequently perform for school, district, and community events. The film composition program has grown to include collaborations with student filmmakers. Other collaborations include original works with Visual Art and Dance. The AVPA Jazz Combo recently won "Superior" ratings at the Fullerton College Jazz Festival on April 23, 2016.
AVPA Visual Art students exhibit their works annually at various museums, including The Craft and Folk Art Museum, MOCA and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and participate in the Ryman Arts program in conjunction with the University of Southern California.
Theatre students have received individual and ensemble awards at a variety of festivals, including CETA, DTASC, the University of La Verne, and CSU Long Beach theater festivals. The cast of AVPA's 2005 production of Antigone was honored with an invitation, which it accepted, to perform at the American High School Theatre Festival at the prestigious Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. In 2009, their production of Nicholas Nickleby won first place for Best Ensemble at CETA, as well as seven acting/company awards, and got to perform there. In 2011, their production of "The Laramie Project" again took the first place award for Best Ensemble at CETA.
AVPA's Dance also known as Danger Zone Dance Company(DZDC) hosts yearly Fall and Spring Dance Concerts featuring student dance performances, many of which are also choreographed by AVPA student dance majors and minors. AVPA Dance also contributes dance to AVPA's end of the year JAVA Gala. In addition, AVPA Dance has been able to work with numerous dance companies in the Los Angeles area performing and contributing choreography. The students had the chance to work with and perform work by Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre in Laundromatinee in 2012 and Punctuation Station and Fish eyes in 2017. Additionally AVPA dance's choreography students performed at the Culver City Art Walk in 2016 at AVPA Art's art exhibition. AVPA Dance was also the recipient of a $50,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation in 2011. This grant helps to fund AVPA dance's classes, teachers, and performances, so the students have as many artistic opportunities as can be provided.
The Film program at AVPA has hosted the Frost Film Festival, an event founded in 1999, where local high schools screen student films in competition. In 2007, AVPA's student film Club Evil won the Best Overall High School Film prize from the Los Angeles County Office of Education Digital Voice Awards. The film program produces a 16mm short-subject film annually in conjunction with Sony Pictures. The film program has produced several award-winning directors and films at film festivals across Southern California.