Never let it be said (truthfully, at least) that Irvine does not care about the arts or its effect on youth. Irvine believes that the arts do matter in a child’s life and the proof of that is in its schools and in the community.
Arts Programs in Institutions of Higher Learning
Starting at the top, there is UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, with its strong yet ever-improving programs in dance, drama (both of those nationally recognized and ranked), music and studio art, turning out excellent arts productions, presentations, exhibitions and concerts, along with successful alumni who have excelled in their respective fields in the professional world.
Irvine Valley College has its locally recognized instrumental and choral-music programs, thought-provoking dramatic productions, a small but busy dance program and an active art gallery and department.
Concordia University Irvine boasts vaunted programs in choral music and handbell choirs, along with a highly respected theater program and a thriving visual-art program.
How many cities can claim even one university or college with such busy arts activities, let alone three?
Every one of Irvine’s five high schools – the four in the Irvine Unified School District (University, Irvine, Woodbridge and Northwood) and the one in the Tustin Unified School District that is within Irvine’s city boundaries (Arnold O. Beckman) – has vibrant programs in music and drama. There are even percussion ensembles at two of them (Woodbridge and Beckman). Meanwhile, dance thrives at University and Woodbridge.
Then there are the community groups. Although headquartered in Fountain Valley, Festival Ballet Theatre gives all its productions, including its hugely popular “Nutcracker,” at the Barclay, and just recently opened a second school in Irvine. That studio joins others such as Irvine Dance Academy, Focus, Pacific Dance and Classical Dance Center, to name only a few.
Theater companies such as Musical Theatre Village, Musical Theatre Academy of Orange County and Standing OVation Productions also dot the Irvine landscape, as do music schools such as Yamaha Music Education Center and the Irvine Conservatory of Music.
The important thing to point out here is that, in addition to teaching young people about the respective arts, these schools and programs also teach them about cooperation, teamwork, leadership, camaraderie, volunteerism, selflessness and how to be pragmatic in their creativity. Students participating in arts programs do better in their academics, as many tests have repeatedly shown.
Irvine is truly a leading city in arts education and activities. Every city should be so lucky.