About AAI

AAI OFFERS A UNIQUE BALANCE of tradition and innovation. liberal arts and visual arts, technology and touch, fine art and design. The Institute community is committed to expanding boundaries and vision through rigorous study.


What Makes us Unique?

• Pre-Professional Arts Program
AAI provides a teaching staff of professionals in the arts strands and classes that prepare students for advanced education and career paths.
• School-to-Career Emphasis
AAI classes are designed to provide students with exposure to the world of working artists.
• The AAI Academic Program
Students who are accepted into the AAI will take their academic subjects at Arcata High School. Students have two academic options. As a first option, students may take any academic courses offered at AHS, including exemplary Advanced Placement programs. AHS is the top academic school in Humboldt County in SAT, AP scores, and STAR testing.

School Design

The AAI program is for students in grades 10-12 who are dedicated to the arts. The program includes:

• workshops and intensives both during and after the regular school day with artist teachers who are professionals in their arts related fields
• a day which is structured so that a student takes core academic subjects within AHS in the morning and then has an uninterrupted afternoon for both AAI classes

• an admissions process which selects for a total commitment
• teachers who directly serve as counselors and mentors for each student
• a periodic performance assessment by a jury of teachers and professionals as a condition for continuation in the program
• innovative seminars and speakers in career exploration
• regular performances, exhibits, and publications in the community
• extra-curricular plays, musicals, and performing groups
• internships and job-shadowing experiences

AAI also has a ‘sister’ program,  the Innovative Design Institute. Also known as IDI, this program is focused on integrating STEAM  (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics) and CTE (Career Technical Education) through the lens of art and design. This program, like AAI, is focused on preparing students for future industry positions.

Admissions Process

All students who would like to be a part of the school must go through an application process in the Spring. Candidates must successfully complete an admissions process which includes an application containing:

• a personal essay indicating academic and arts goals
• a recommendation from an arts teacher or professional
• a resume
• submission of a portfolio of work and an interview, or
• an audition and an interview
• a transcript with a minimum 2.0 academic standing and a good conduct record.

This is a competitive process. Applicants will be looked at not only for talent (ability and potential) but for passion and commitment to achieve in the program. A candidate not accepted may reapply the following Spring. Candidates accepted from other districts must apply for an interdistrict transfer from their home districts.

Candidates apply in the Spring for entrance to the school for the following school year. Auditions will begin in March. Notification of acceptance into the program will be announced at the end of April. Students accepted will major in their chosen art.

Who May Attend?

AAI is open to all Humboldt County students who have a passion for the arts subject and who can meet the requirements for the school. AAI is open to:

• all Arcata High School students who meet the requirements for acceptance.
• any student outside of Arcata High School who applies for admission, is accepted by AAI, and secures the appropriate transfer from their current district of attendance.

Art Works Network

One of the most powerful instruction strategies within the AAI is the integration of the Art Works Artist Network into our curriculum. Artists from our community teach workshops and contribute to the daily curriculum.

The Art Works Network provides

• exposure for AAI students to exemplary works of art
• a context within which students can study those works within their cultural and social context
• workshops that enable students to acquire the skills needed to practice specific art forms
• performance opportunities within the community
• assessment according to state and national arts education standards
• pre-professional arts experiences
• a faculty and community of art professionals in all the arts strands who prepare students for post-secondary education or career paths.

Each artist/art organization begins by presenting an artwork before the class. Discussion happens regarding cultural context, influences, artists’ process, techniques, etc. with the class. Often short lessons, during the school day, are lead by the artist utilizing the same techniques that were used in the displayed artwork. After school workshops are offered giving the students a chance to work more closely, over an extended period of time, with the artist to develop their own artworks. Every workshop culminates in an exhibit/performance within the community. Often these performance opportunities are associated with our Arts Alive and Arts Arcata events. In this way community members act as hosts. Art Works artists often act as mentors to individual students throughout the year outside of the workshop experience. This relationship is especially important for AAI seniors developing their senior projects. All workshops are designed to provide students with exposure to the world of the working artist.

Our partnerships are the heart of the program and the greatest source of creative catalyst for the students.

We maintain active partnerships with:
•  http://www.humboldt.edu HSU Art Education & Art Department
•  http://www.inkpeople.org The Ink People Center for the Arts
• http://www.humboldt.edu/~first HSU’s First Street Gallery
• http://www.arcatamainstreet.com Arcata Main Street
• http://www.cityofarcata.org City of Arcata
• http://www.arcatasunrise.org Rotary Club of Arcata Sunrise
• http://www.arcatatheater.com The Arcata Theater Lounge

This year we worked with the Humboldt Cultural Coalition and Humboldt Area Foundation to encourage our Artist experts to write grants in order to support their work with us.

A gift to the Arcata Arts Institute is a gift to much more than youth, arts and academics. It is an investment in the very best of public education. Your contribution strengthens arts education which helps prepare our students for the expectations of the twenty-first century workforce, which require effective communication skills, adaptability to changing situations, and the ability work effectively with others.

Your support is a commitment to fostering the careful nurturing of the creative mind. It is a personal/ organizational commitment to educate students to become careful, creative problem solvers.

For more information regarding how you can support the Arcata Arts Institute contact us through our Contact Us page.

New Schedule

To view the new schedule, click on the link below.

New Schedule