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New Management May Resuscitate Academy of Performing Arts

January 22, 1987|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | Times Staff Writer and

The Academy of Performing and Visual Arts will be revived under new management, a founder of the academy said this week.

"The program is going to continue one way or another," said Jack Plimpton, a co-founder of the academy, which has offered free courses in the visual and performing arts to high school students throughout Los Angeles County since 1984. Linda Gibboney, an academy official at UCLA, where the program has been based, announced the closing of the existing program last Saturday.

Until last Saturday, the academy, which held weekend and afterschool classes in the arts at five sites throughout the county, operated out of the extension office at UCLA. The revived program will have no affiliation with UCLA, Plimpton said. It will be governed by representatives of the Los Angeles, Glendale and Beverly Hills school districts and representatives of the foundation established to raise money for the academy and to support it in other ways.

Founded with a $500,000 grant from the state Department of Education, the academy attempted to fill a gap in the high school curriculum created by the elimination of many school arts programs after the passage of Proposition 13, Plimpton said. It has been financially troubled almost since it began, according to participants, who say that it suffered from its inability to find a stable source of funding.

Plimpton, retired principal of North Hollywood Community Adult School, said that he hopes that private gifts and corporate donations will provide much of the money for the academy in the future.

The academy has been popular despite its fiscal problems, attracting more than 500 students some semesters.

During 1986-87, classes met at Glendale High School, Foshay Junior High School in central Los Angeles, Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, Beverly Hills High School and the former Excelsior High School building in Norwalk. Classes were taught by professional actors, dancers, painters and other artists.

Among the professional artists actively supporting the academy is actress Jean Stapleton, who is president of the board of the academy foundation.

In a telephone interview, Stapleton said she especially values the academy's emphasis on teaching students a craft, rather than encouraging them to seek stardom.

"Stardom is not the goal," said Stapleton, who is on tour with a production of "Arsenic and Old Lace." "The goal is the craft."

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