Performing & Visual Arts Charter High School in Fort Smith

Contact Info: Dr. Rosilee Russell, Executive Director, 479-739-4655 [email protected]
Deana Griffith, Director of Operations, 479-434-2020 [email protected]

Community School of the Arts is excited to announce that the Charter Authorizing Panel for the State of Arkansas on Tuesday November 14 unanimously approved the application to begin a Performing & Visual Arts Charter High School in Fort Smith. Pending the State Board of Education approval in December, the high school is set to open in August 2024.

Charter Panel member, Mr. Kim Davis, Senior Advisor of the Walton Family Foundation supported the new charter citing that “The opportunity to add an additional school model to the community is a value-add for families and students in an ever-emerging field in the state.” Dr. Matthew Sutherlin, Chair of the Charter Authorizing Panel said, “I’m excited about the direction of the school and look forward to what it has in store for the students of Arkansas.”

The high school, called the Institute for the Creative Arts, will open with students entering grades 9-11 in year one with grade 12 added in the fall of 2025. As a public charter school, it is a tuition-free school open to all students with funding provided by the state. The Institute will be housed in the new CSA Center for the Creative Arts facility located at 1101 Riverfront Drive. The new state-of-the-art Center, constructed by Community School of the Arts will house not only the Institute but also the CSA after-school programs. It is set to open in late spring of 2024.

The Mission of the Institute is Empowering students through an intensive arts and academic curriculum that prepares them for higher education, creative careers, and to become future leaders in the performing and visual arts industries.

QUOTE: Dr. Jennifer Feeny, K-12 Consultant for the Institute for the Creative Arts
The Institute for the Creative Arts is a unique opportunity for students in the River Valley to explore their artistic passions in an environment that is dedicated to fostering creativity and excellence in the arts. High school students will partner with experts in the field that are passionate about nurturing the next generation of artists. Faculty, students, and parents can engage in a learning atmosphere within the cutting-edge facility, equipped with state-of-the-art performance spaces.

The Institute will combine a rigorous college preparatory academic program with pre-professional training in the arts which will include music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, and culinary. The school will specialize in arts programs that are not typically offered in a traditional high school. ICA is designed to meet the need for in-depth arts training.

The core arts faculty will consist of professional musicians, actors, dancers, filmmakers, and artists who provide the critical link between ICA students and the professional arts world. Academic instructors are highly trained in their field and will actively engage in preparing students for college and beyond. Students will generally spend half of their school day in academic instruction and half of their day in their arts focus area.

The new Institute is the first-of-its-kind in Arkansas and a model for education in not only arts, but academics as well. The school has been endorsed by so many people including state legislators such as Senator Justin Boyd and Representative Charlene Fite, Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva, Mayor George McGill, the Fort Smith City Board of Directors, and our United States legislators including Senator John Boozman and Representative Steve Womack.

QUOTE: Mrs. Jeannie Cole, Board Chair for Community School of the Arts
I am excited to help play a role in enhancing art education in the River Valley. This will be a game-changer in these students’ lives as they and the staff endeavor to transform the region into a beacon for the arts.

Performing & Visual Arts High Schools across the nation are some of the top schools in the U.S. Studies have shown that there is nearly a 100% high school graduation rate in these schools with over 90% of all students attending a school of this type going to college on arts and academic scholarships.

ICA will open with arts programs in contemporary music including jazz and pop styles, music composition & technology, musical theatre, technical theatre, dance, and studies in visual art including digital art, animation, and gaming. Students will have the opportunity to select their choice or choices of arts study.

Much more information is coming including meetings to answer questions and assist in registering students. We anticipate a large interest in this school so getting connected early is important. CSA is encouraging all interested families to visit to register your interest. Formal enrollment will begin in December. For more information, contact the CSA office at 479-434-2020, email [email protected], or contact Dr. Rosilee Russell at [email protected].

QUOTE: Dr. Rosilee Russell, Founder/Executive Director of Community School of the Arts
We are so excited to be able to provide a special high school like this in Arkansas. We believe that the pursuit of mastery in an artistic field, combined with a strong sense of purpose, leads to great things for our students and our world. This is true whether a student pursues a career in the arts or in another rewarding field. ICA is going to have a tremendous impact on students all across our region!