The California Institute of the Arts Publications Collection contains books, directories, handbooks, magazines, newsletters,
and other materials documenting a variety of aspects of CalArts including academics, campus events, creative endeavors, and
student life. The collection covers the years 1964 to 2014 with the bulk of the material ranging from 1971 to 2000.
California Institute of the Arts, commonly known as CalArts, is located in Valencia, California, and grants degrees in the
visual and performing arts. Incorporated on September 1, 1961, it was the first degree-granting institution of higher learning
in the United States created specifically for students of both the visual and the performing arts. It was the dream and vision
of Walt Disney to create such an institute and he provided funding for it in his will. Initially formed through the merger
of the Chouinard Art Institute (founded 1921) and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music (founded 1883), it opened at its present
campus in Valencia, California, in November 1971.
California Institute of the Arts was incorporated on September 1, 1961, and the first Board of Trustees meeting was held the
following March. Chouinard and the Conservatory began operating under the name of the Institute while the Trustees began working
on the establishment of a permanent campus and a development program. Preparation continued in 1964, when the “Cal Arts Story”
was dramatized on film by the Disney studios and shown at the world premiere of Mary Poppins at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
in Hollywood, California. Prior to the Mary Poppins premiere (whose proceeds were donated to CalArts) Walt Disney and Mrs.
Von Hagen introduced the Institute to an audience of 1,500 guests in a fifteen-minute special film. Among those who attended
the Premiere were Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and numerous other Hollywood luminaries.
Land for a campus was acquired in 1967 and planning for the physical facilities was immediately undertaken. Disney interests
had discovered a simple solution to their land acquisition problem – give CalArts part of the Golden Oaks Ranch in Newhall.
The 728-acre ranch had belonged to Walt Disney Productions for years. In 1967 the gift property was sold back to the Disney
interests so they could find a more spacious and suitable site. Price proposed a 60-acre site down the road from the Placerita
Ranch, on the edge of the rural town of Valencia, located 32 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. At the time, the area
was remote from Los Angeles, bordered by Placerita Canyon State Park and a national forest, yet readily accessible to downtown
Los Angeles. Other locations had also been considered, such as the Hollywood Bowl area.
Ground was broken for the new campus on May 3, 1969. Construction was frustrated by torrential rains and labor troubles of
every variety. So, instead the “new” school began its first year in the buildings of Villa Cabrini Academy, a former Catholic
girls’ school on the edge of downtown Burbank. Woefully behind schedule and over budget, the Valencia campus finally opened
in November 1971.
Admission to CalArts was based solely on artistic ability and potential. Students received intensive professional training
in the area of their career focus without being cast into a rigid pattern. Instructional emphasis was placed on the development
of the professional artist – the artist of tomorrow. “There is an urgent need,” said Disney, “for a professional school which
will not only give its students thorough training in a specific field, but will also allow the widest possible range of artistic
growth and expression.”
Economic Research Associates. “A Historical Summary of Cal Arts,” July 13, 1967.
Real, James. “When You Wish Upon A School,” in West, 1972.