Editorial Team

Integrating art within our lives plays a key role in enhancing the human experience. Art schools equip individuals with the right tools they need to hone their sheer talent and transform their love for art into a career while bringing about a positive change in today’s world. Nonetheless, while we acknowledge the transformative impact art may have on our lives, its place within the education system has become increasingly weak. It is imperative to find the right institution that empowers its students to achieve their true artistic potential by implementing creativity across disciplines and is equipped with the required resources to do so.

Revolutionizing lives since 1946 is the forward-thinking and well-renowned art institution, Idyllwild Arts Academy, with its state-of-the-art infrastructure, skilled faculty, and continually evolving curricula. The academy offers intensive, specialized arts training and challenging college-prep academics to talented young artists from around the world. The academy’s Arts Majors include Music, Visual Arts, Theatre, Creative Writing, Dance, Fashion Design, Film & Digital Media, and Interdisciplinary Arts.

Outside the regular school year, Idyllwild Arts offers summer workshops, including Jazz in the Pines, ESL, Native American Arts, and a full menu of Arts Intensives. Additionally, the academy is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It belongs to the National Association of Independent Schools, The Association of Boarding Schools, and the Arts Schools Network. Tara Sechrest, Vice President, Enrollment Management & Strategic Partnerships, Idyllwild Arts Academy, tells us, “Idyllwild Arts was founded as a respite for creators to come together from around the world. The vision of our founders was that this creative collective would promote intercultural understanding and peace while re-envisioning the artist’s responsibility to society. Idyllwild Arts believes that art is the greatest teacher of humanity. And the practice of creativity, no matter the ultimate expression, hones each individual’s desire and ability to craft global change.

Tara Sechrest, Vice President, Enrollment Management & Strategic Partnerships, Idyllwild Arts Academy

A Three-pronged Approach

The academy picturesquely sits a mile above sea level in the San Jacinto Mountains, two hours from Los Angeles and San Diego and an hour from Palm Springs, beckoning inspiration. The institution boasts cutting-edge facilities that enhance the student’s experience of artistic discovery, productivity, and creativity. The campus comprises an IAF Theatre that can accommodate 300 individuals for music, dance, and theatre performances, an advanced Bruce Ryan Sound Stage for film productions, a top-of-the-line professional film editing bay, Fisher and Lewitzky professional Dance Studios, Kennedy Kiln Center, which is a fully-functioning ceramics kiln studio, Parks Exhibition Art Gallery for student and visiting artist exhibitions, Krone Museum with historic photos and archives, and Native American art, and private soundproofed music rehearsal studios.

In tandem with this, the new William M. Lowman Concert Hall, designed by award-winning architect Whitney Sander of Los Angeles, is the latest addition to the institution’s portfolio of offerings. Situated in the heart of the Idyllwild Arts Academy campus, the massive concert hall is approximately eight thousand square feet and seats 298 audience members. The hall includes a lobby, restrooms, a green room, mechanical space, and musical instrument storage space. The performance stage is 60 percent larger than the IAF Theatre stage in the Bowman Arts Center (1,820 sq. ft. compared to the current 1,100 sq. ft.) and thus able to simultaneously accommodate a full symphony orchestra and chorus, as well as jazz concerts and chamber music performances.

Acoustically engineered by ARUP North America and world-famous for its design of the Sydney Opera House, the hall is sheathed in 67 thousand pounds of rusted corten steel panels that blend with the cedar siding of surrounding campus buildings. The jagged topography of the steel evokes the mountain landscape of Idyllwild, while the silhouette of the building represents an artist’s conception of the musical score “Xtal” by Richard James. In all stages of development, fine acoustics have been the top priority.

The project includes a professional landscape plan, designed to be sustainable and eco-friendly. The design features indigenous, drought-resistant native plantings, an oak grove, and solar-powered illuminated walkways leading to outdoor areas that serve as a central campus quad and gathering space for the school community.

Employing highly skilled and experienced teachers is another critical factor in shaping a student’s life. At Idyllwild Arts, students learn from a distinguished faculty of working professional artists. Moreover, maintaining a strong teacher-student ratio helps the teacher focus on each student better, thus deriving better results. Keeping this in mind, the student-teacher ratio is 3:1 at Idyllwild Arts. Resource is a dedicated class period designed to provide individual support for students with documented learning differences. Resource is staffed by the Director of Resource and meets in the Krone Library, so students have dedicated time to work in a quiet space, and also receive 1-on-1 support and check-ins with the Director of Resource. Students in Resource receive support and instruction in time-management, communication, and organization skills, and are coached in self-advocacy. Resource also provides a quiet venue for extended-time testing. While Resource is not required for students with learning differences, IAA strongly encourages such students to enroll in Resource as additional support. A student may gain permission to enroll in Resource through the Assistant Head of School, who needs to receive documentation of the learning difference before enrolling a student in Resource. Students requiring classroom accommodations also need to submit documentation to the Assistant Head of School, whether or not they would like to be enrolled in Resource.

Parental involvement in a student’s life is another aspect to which the academy pays high regard. Parents are offered regular email communications by the advisor and are invited to respond if they have any concerns. In conjunction with this, parents are provided with uninterrupted access to Blackbaud’s education software. Parents can check on their child’s progress in any class at any time, and the Blackbaud software enables them to communicate their concerns (or satisfaction) to the relevant teacher.

Stars that Walk Amongst Us

Graduates of Idyllwild Arts excel in every professional arts discipline, including Broadway theatre, primetime television, classical and jazz music, motion pictures, graphic design, dance, and more. Several students have gone on to attain global recognition and have built a strong reputation of their own.

Tara recounts some of the notable achievements by one of the top ’10 innovators of 2013′, according to Architectural Digest AD Profile, Elora Hardy. She commenced her career as a designer, working for Donna Karan in New York. Her prints have walked the world’s runways. She then left the world of glamor to return to Bali and form a sustainable construction company where she builds stunning homes out of bamboo that look inspired by Hollywood movie sets.

Yet another shining alumnus from the Idyllwild Arts Academy is Clay Alexander, an inventor and serial entrepreneur holding over a hundred patents worldwide. In his tenure, he has established three renowned organizations, one of where he created the world’s first LED track light. Through his third organization, he founded a design-led temperature control brand which is creating a new category of consumer products and is on the path to becoming the next global household brand.

Other stars fondly remembered are Shepard Fairey – American contemporary artist, activist, and founder of OBEY Clothing, musician Casey Abrams, Tony-nominated actress Marin Ireland and New York’s Philharmonic principal oboist, Liang Wang.

The academy also extends internships at Palm Springs Fashion Week, Spring and Summer fashion industry internships in Palm Springs and New York, and collaborates with a charitable organization to apply design skills to helping others. Tara adds, “Seven of our student films were announced as an official selection in the prestigious All American High School Film Festival. Two of the students nominated graduated in May (Isabella Bastos and Athena Stuebe). Everyone else nominated is a returning student.”

Efficiently Operating within a Pandemic-impacted World

Over the years, the academy has continually geared itself up for the inevitable change encountered in this sector. As the pandemic hit us and evolved, so did the academy and its response to this outbreak. As COVID-19 posed severe challenges for boarding schools worldwide, Idyllwild Arts Academy’s administration anticipated the difficulties. It became one of the first schools in California’s sprawling Riverside County to send its students home and move to an all-remote program in the spring of 2020.

When students began returning to campus in October of that year, the school was prepared with compulsory masking, frequent mandatory testing, takeout dining to prevent large gatherings in the dining hall, an off-campus quarantine facility for students who tested positive for the virus, and more. Vaccinations were never mandated, but they were strongly encouraged, and nearly all students and employees accepted vaccination. The school did not let its guard down throughout the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. Tara elucidates, “As a result, only a handful of students and employees contracted the virus in 2020-21. In 2021-22 the numbers were slightly higher, but no one who contracted the virus became seriously ill, and there were no COVID-related hospitalizations. The Idyllwild Arts Academy community has a right to be proud of its response to the pandemic.” Throughout the pandemic, the institution continued to run its normal performance schedule, and students participated in hands-on art classes.

In the face of adversity and constant change, the academy envisions to continue nurturing young talent and helping its students carve a fulfilling career path.

For More Info: https://idyllwildarts.org/

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