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Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grand Arts High School
Grand Arts school logo.png
Coordinates34°03′35″N 118°14′39″W / 34.0595965°N 118.2443026°W / 34.0595965; -118.2443026
EstablishedSeptember 9, 2009
School districtLos Angeles Unified School District
PrincipalLori Kathleen Gambero
Enrollment1,152 (2018-2019)
NicknameGrand Arts, VAPA, Number 9

The Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, known unofficially as Grand Arts High School, is a performing arts public high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District in the United States. It is located on the site of the old Fort Moore at the corner of Grand Avenue and Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, adjacent to Chinatown. Grand Arts anchors the north end of Los Angeles' "Grand Avenue Cultural Corridor".[1][2] The school's distinctive architecture has made the facility noteworthy beyond the Los Angeles area.

The school admits 400 incoming freshmen students each year, with Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts accounting for 100 students each. Students are admitted via a lottery which takes place each spring. Admission requires no prior training or auditions, and there are no fees or tuition.[3]

The school's leadership history includes, former principal Ken Martinez, and former Executive Artistic Director, Kim M. Bruno (former principal of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and Professional Performing Arts School). As of Fall 2019, Lori Gambero is the principal of Grand Arts.


The school offers a full range of standard academic programs as well as specialty programs in four arts academies.

Dance Academy

Grand Arts treats dance as an integral part of a student's education. Students in the Dance Academy take classes in ballet, modern, tap, hip hop, cultural dance, and choreography.

Music Academy

All music students receive training in theory, sight reading, technical studies, history, and performance. The curriculum is anchored in the California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards, and is augmented by extended partnerships with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Opera; adjudicated festivals; and master classes with renowned visiting Master Artists.

In the Music Academy, students can take classes in vocal and instrumental performance. Music theory, music composition, concert band, symphonic band, jazz band, string orchestra, symphonic orchestra, concert choir, vocal jazz, vocal technique, and guitar are part of the curriculum.

Theatre Academy

The Theatre Academy offers stents a variety of classes that develop skills in acting and directing through a four-year acting program. The scope and sequence of each year's curriculum is designed to propel students into higher levels of acting achievement, regardless of initial experience.

Based in the California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards, each grade level includes work that "begins with basic techniques in discovery of self through classes that study how movement, voice production and a freeing of the inhibitions of the mind and body in improvisation classes can enhance performance."[4]

The Grand Arts Theatre curriculum includes Acting 1-4, Movement, Improvisation 1 & 2, Voice and Diction 1 & 2, Directing, Audition Technique, Career Management, and Stagecraft.

Visual Arts Academy

"The Visual Arts program is designed for students to find and develop their voices as artists. We are committed to the untrained beginner with a lifelong desire to study art as well as to those who have had opportunity and come to us with impressive portfolios... A student who graduates in visual arts will have created a visual arts portfolio suitable for achieving college and/or career path goals."[5]

Students take classes in Principles of Drawing, Ceramics, Painting, Video Production, Digital Design, Photo, and Life Drawing. A multitude of AP Art classes are offered year-round.


Some of Grand Arts' most notable alumni are Arrow de Wilde, Ashton Sanders, Cori Broadus, Doja Cat, Dylan Savage, Eva Chambers, Henri Cash, Marcel Ruiz, Mason Alexander Park, and Wayne Mackins Harris.

Grand Arts students have attended Julliard, Stanford, Harvard, USC, New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, Pace University, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, and other private and public universities across the world. As of 2019, Grand Arts has a 99% graduation rate.[citation needed]


When the school opened on September 9, 2009, it was known as Central Los Angeles High School #9. Suzanne Blake was its first principal. In June of 2011, the school board renamed the school in honor of former school district superintendent Ramon C. Cortines.[6] As of 2014, it has been unofficially called Grand Arts High School.

The school has been featured in several commercials, films, and photo shoots. In 2015, the school released a music video called "Dream It! Do It!", directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen. The video was produced and conceived by the school's principal, Kim Bruno. "Dream It! Do It!" featured Grand Arts and Debbie Allen Dance Academy students showcasing the importance of the arts in the Los Angeles community.

Norman Isaacs, the school's former principal, resigned in protest over what he termed inadequate funding for the school.[7]

Past productions at Grand Arts include the Dance Academy's yearly spring dance concert, annual musicales by the Music Academy, Hairspray,Once on This Island, In The Heights, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Noises Off, The Glass Menagerie, Steel Magnolias, Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Hello Dolly, Guys and Dolls, Dreamgirls, Peter Pan, and the school's inaugural production of La Llorona (an Aztec version of Medea).

In addition to the wide range season, five visual art exhibitions are produced by the Visual Arts Academy each school year.


White Latino Asian African American Pacific Islander American Indian Two or more races
11% 68% 11% 10% 0.1% 1% 0.1%

According to US News and World Report, 89% of Ramon C. Cortines' student body is "of color," with 77% of the student body coming from economically disadvantaged households, determined by student eligibility for California's reduced-price meal program.[8]


The school occupies a 9.9 acre block in downtown Los Angeles at the north end of the city's "Grand Avenue Cultural Corridor," which also includes the Disney Concert Hall, the Los Angeles Music Center, the Colburn School of Music, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Broad Art Museum. The facility includes seven buildings totaling 238,000 square feet (22,110 m2). The final costs for construction were $171.9 million, and for the entire project $232 million.[7][9]


The facility was designed by the project team of HMC Architects (Architect-of-Record) and the Austrian firm Coop Himmelb(l)au (Designer-of-Record). They were selected through a design competition in September 2002. In 2006, ground was broken on the school.[10]

The design has been controversial, with the school described as "bold", "unconventional", its forms "stunning" and "a testament to the provocative power of art;" its interior spaces as having "a surprisingly rich range of personalities", "prosaic," "almost barracks-like;" its classrooms as "confined and airless," and the cafeteria as "cave-like."[11][10][12]

The school's most iconic form, a tower over the performing arts building, is a unique and highly visible sculptural form, intended to provide a point of identification and a symbol for the arts in the city.[11] It was envisioned to be a public space accessed via the ramp that winds around the tower with a viewing platform on top. School officials objected, and so it remains inaccessible and a non-functional sculptural form.[11]

An excerpt from Hawthorne's "Starchitecture High" states: "What…the school has taught [its students] about the architecture is not so much what they like and dislike about the design, or about what works and what doesn't, but rather the surprising and ultimately thrilling ways in which their high school campus reminds them of themselves and their peers. Like them it is something of a proud outcast: gangly, dreamy, and beautiful at the same time, trying to make its way in a culture that prizes familiarity over strangeness and sameness over individuality. For a teenager who dreams of becoming an artist or a dancer, and has maybe not always found that ambition popular or easily understood by others in his family or neighborhood, what kind of campus could be better?"[13]

The campus has seven buildings, an outdoor swimming pool, and a full-sized athletic playfield.


Building #1 includes the main entry and administration offices as well as the Dance Academy.


Building #2 is a cone-shaped building that incorporates the library.

Theatre and Visual Arts

Building #3 includes the Visual Arts Academy and the Theatre Academy.

Theatre/concert hall

Building #4 includes a 927-seat performing arts theater used for assemblies, plays, and concerts. This building is shaped in the form of the number 9 for the school's old name, CLAHS#9. This building also includes the black box theater, which can accommodate 250 people. The tower and spiraling form sit on top of this building. A main public entry for after-hours use is located at the west corner of the site.

Music Academy

Building #5 includes the Music Academy.


Building #6 is located in the center of the campus and includes the kitchen and students' eating area.

Gym and dance studios

Building #7 includes the gymnasium, locker rooms, support spaces, dance studios, an air-conditioned indoor basketball court, a weight room, and a parking garage.


  1. ^ "LAUSD Breaks Ground on Central Los Angeles Area New High School #9". Los Angeles Unified School District. September 8, 2006. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
  2. ^ "Central L.A. Area New H.S. #9" (PDF). Los Angeles Unified School District. March 2006. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
  3. ^ School webpage. Retrieved 2015-11-01
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ School Board press release, June 14, 2011. Retrieved 2015-10-30
  7. ^ a b Blume, Howard (July 14, 2013). "L.A.'s arts high school loses another principal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Coop Himmelb(l)au’s eclectic design for High School #9 in Los Angeles is ambitious. But does it succeed?, Architectural Record, January 2010. Retrieved 2015-11-01
  10. ^ a b Pass/fail for L.A.;s new arts school, Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2009. Retrieved 2015-10-31
  11. ^ a b c CRIT> SCHOOL FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, Archpaper 09.29.2009. Retrieved 2015-10-31
  12. ^ A Towering absurdity, Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2008. Retrieved 2015-10-31
  13. ^ School district website:  History and Grand Architecture. Retrieved 2015-10-31

External links

This page was last edited on 2 April 2020, at 03:35
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