The School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) is a magnet arts school in Cincinnati, Ohio and part of the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS). SCPA was founded in 1973 as one of the first magnet schools in Cincinnati and became the first school in the country to combine a full range of arts studies with a complete college-preparatory academic program for elementary through high school students. Of the approximately 350 arts schools in the United States, SCPA is one of the oldest and has been cited as a model for both racial integration and for arts programs in over 100 cities.
SCPA had three different homes in its first four years, including a makeshift campus in the Mount Adams neighborhood and another in Roselawn. In 1976, it occupied the Old Woodward High School building, on the site of one of the oldest public schools in the country. The school rose to national prominence in the 1980s, but was nearly closed in the 1990s following a series of scandals, leadership struggles, and an arson fire which destroyed the auditorium. Its reputation recovered in the years that followed and in 2009–10, the school was featured in the MTV reality series Taking the Stage, filmed at the school and featuring SCPA students.
In 2010 SCPA combined with the Schiel Primary School for Arts Enrichment to create the first kindergarten through twelfth grade (about ages five to seventeen) arts school and first private sector/public arts school in the US. A new facility in Over-the-Rhine was championed by the late Cincinnati Pops Maestro Erich Kunzel and funded through a unique public-private partnership that raised over $31 million in private contributions to match public funding. The building features specialized facilities for the arts and three separate theaters and is the key to redevelopment plans for the area.
Students must audition for admission; fewer than 20 percent of those who apply each year are accepted. SCPA is free to CPS students but also attracts tuition-paying students from outside the district and the state. The newly combined school will serve approximately 1,300 students in 2010, offering a curriculum designed to prepare students for professional careers in creative writing, dance, drama, music, technical theater, and visual art. The emphasis is on performance, and students in every field are required to perform or present their work in public regularly.
Students compete successfully in arts competitions locally and internationally. On standardized tests, SCPA ranks second among Cincinnati public schools. Ninety percent of graduating seniors continue on to college, and those students receive one of the highest levels of scholarship funding in the city. A limited number of extracurricular activities are offered, as students are expected to commit significant after-school time to training and performance. SCPA has produced notable graduates in a wide range of artistic fields, including award-winning actors, singers, directors and technicians.
This article is about the school in Cincinnati, Ohio.