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Visual Arts and Performing Arts

The arts are a vital part of the Culver City community, bringing joy and wonder to teaching and learning.  

A testament to CCUSD’s value placed on the importance of the Performing Arts are the rich partnerships it has forged with groups for the Performing Arts such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Center Theatre Group, 24th Street Theatre, Young Storytellers, Story Pirates, and many more. Courses are offered in theater, choral music, instrumental music, dance and film. Arts, Media and Entertainment CTE High School pathways include Production & Managerial Arts Pathway with courses in Technical Production and Stagecraft & Play Production as well as a Performing Arts Pathway. These programs foster as much creativity behind the scenes as on stage.  Students learn skills to prepare for both college and career and learn through connecting academics to real world applications. Visual Arts are also highly valued. The CCHS Academy of Visual Arts CTE pathway enjoys rich partnerships with community-based organizations to connect students with working artists and industry professionals.

A variety of spaces are needed to better support the arts and arts integration.  At the elementary schools, the current Cafetorium model is inadequate as a performing arts space.  All five elementary school campuses will have a new Café dedicated for eating and other activities, a Multi-Purpose Hall dedicated for music and other performing arts.  At the middle and high school levels, dance studios will also be used for yoga, mindfulness classes, martial arts, and rehearsal space.  A new technical theater learning lab will be added to CCHS.

Other examples of a smaller scaled spaces that support flexible, informal and frequent performing arts events include a pair of Learning Studios conjoined or Outdoor Learning spaces for different sizes of groups to gather.

CCUSD’s campuses celebrate their students and the Visual Arts by displaying it on the campuses, out in community spaces and using student made murals for campus beautification. To support CCUSD’s Strategic Arts plan which focuses on equity district-wide, every elementary school campus will have a dedicated Arts/Makerspace Labs to support Arts Integration. Flex Labs on all campuses will be designed to accommodate multiple programs such as makerspace, robotics, science, STEM, Arts and Music and can be used for before and after school programs.  The Flex Labs support multiple access points for students to be exposed to different learning experiences.  At the high school, a new dedicated Visual Arts studio will support the growing Arts program.

The Why

An Arts survey shared by Heather Moses, CCUSD Arts Coordinator shows that teachers feel space is lacking for music and Visual Arts programs. Many of them occur in classrooms and shared spaces compromising these highly valued arts programs. Dedicated space for these programs would also bring the benefit of giving students more time to learn, by having them meet more than once a week. Research shows that the earlier students are exposed to learning the arts, the more likely it becomes a way of life. The early childhood education at CCUSD is a Reggio-Emilia inspired early childhood program which believes that children form their own personality during the early years of development and are endowed with "a hundred languages," through which they can express their ideas. The aim of the Reggio approach is to teach them how to use these symbolic languages (e.g., painting, sculpting, drama) in everyday life.  It is a fact that theater can help with social and emotional learning (SEL), empathy, confidence, perspective taking, and literacy. The connection between languages, music, math and civics is supported by an Arts Integration approach. Teachers help their students increase their knowledge in general subject areas while fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of the arts.   

The Frost Theater at CCHS has been in high demand with scheduling challenges due to the lack of performing arts spaces at other campuses. District-wide, we need more spaces for the Performing Arts to help free up the Frost Theater and to better support CCUSD’s Strategic Arts plan which focuses on equity district-wide. Easy access for partners, parents, and community for inclusivity is important.


Specialized Learning

Performing Arts activities are wide ranging, including drama, dance, choral, instrumental and film-making. Technical Arts include activities such as video production, editing, and music recording. Visual Arts activities include drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, 3D modeling and photography. Students will naturally collaborate with each other to engage in arts activities from different disciplines, for example such as designing and building sets for a theater production.

Arts Integration

A simple example of Arts Integration is a teacher reading a story about a tree house, then having the students make tree houses.  A more advanced example at the secondary education level could be connecting forensic science to classic literature by teaching crime scenes through Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Key Concepts

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Flexibility and multifunctional space provide for variety of seating configuration as well as opportunity for growth of new Visual Arts and Performing Arts programs.

Display of Student Art

Display cases for students’ Visual Arts work in circulation zones and the Welcome Center will give students a sense of pride and make the learning explicit. More student made murals on the campus to reflect the ethos of the school community which values the arts. 


CCHS Performing Arts currently uses temporary containers which must be replaced with permanent storage. The design team needs to engage the user groups in programming including room data sheets for detailed storage needs. Visual Arts needs storage for materials, art supplies and the students’ work for longer term projects. Project-based learning needs space and time to be developed.   

Outdoor Learning Space

Dispersed Performing Arts spaces provide opportunities to expose/incorporate the arts into the academic learning environment activities and promote cross discipline education. Outdoor Learning Spaces will also support Visual Arts learning activities and community events.

Connection to the Outdoors and Ample Daylight

The direct visual connection is important for teachers to be able to supervise students working outdoors while others work indoors for arts activities.  Ample daylight is important for the Visual Arts and Performing Arts. Theater Arts spaces need to control the daylight to be able to darken the space as needed for films and plays. 

Restrooms and Kitchenettes

To make the use of Dedicated Art Labs work for sharing with after school programs, there must be a kitchenette and restrooms within the line of sight of supervising staff after school. Art Labs can be designed as Flex Labs to support the need for this ability to share the space successfully.

Technology, Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment

Depending on the arts program, there will be highly specialized technology, furniture, fixtures and equipment needed that must be listed by the user groups in the programming phase. A technology specialist must be on the design team. Flexibility can be provided with sound systems, lighting with dimmers for users to control, drop down power outlets from the ceiling, sinks and mobile screens in all arts spaces. 

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