Sony Pictures Media Arts Program: 10 Years Of Arts+Media Education for Youth

Student Steven Curtiss learns about and experiments with different forms of animation including clay sculpture stop-motion animation as part of SPMAP. Photo by Scott Groller, provided by CalArts.

Sony Pictures Media Arts Program Celebrates 10 Years of Providing Arts and Media Education to Underserved Youth in Los Angeles

California Institute of the Arts Community Arts Partnership, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Sony Pictures Entertainment Honor Students at Anniversary Event

Valencia, CA, May 29—For the past 10 years, the Sony Pictures Media Arts Program (SPMAP)–a public-private educational partnership between the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Community Arts Partnership (CAP), the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)–has provided the only free animation program for kids in Los Angeles and brought artistic and technical training to young people in some of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods.

On Saturday, June 16 at 11:00 a.m. these partners will celebrate the 10th anniversary of SPMAP, as well as recognizing the 10th anniversary of Sony Pictures Animation and the 20th anniversary of Sony Pictures Imageworks, with a celebratory event on the Sony Pictures Digital Productions campus in Culver City.

“As hosts of the 10th anniversary of the Sony Pictures Media Arts Program, we celebrate the talents of hundreds of young people, many of whom will grow up to be the artists and animators of the future,” said Bob Osher, President of Sony Pictures Digital Productions.

Through SPMAP, middle school students receive instruction in drawing, animation, and media arts at five community centers that are owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles. These centers are the Banning’s Landing Community Center in Wilmington, Center for the Arts Eagle Rock in Eagle Rock, San Fernando Gardens Community Service Center in Pacoima, William Reagh Los Angeles Photography Center near MacArthur Park, and the Watts Towers Arts Center in Watts.

“SPMAP is a model public-private partnership, and CAP is proud to work in collaboration with Sony Pictures Entertainment and the DCA to bring this after-school program to hundreds of students in five diverse neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles,” said Glenna Avila, Wallis Annenberg Director of the CAP program. “We are thrilled to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of this program, which is training hundreds of youth in animation and media arts, as well as training CalArts students as instructors and as contributing community citizens.”

Janice Pober, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Social Responsibility, Sony Pictures Entertainment added, “At Sony Pictures, we thrive on creative inspiration, so it’s vital to our success to nurture up-and-coming artistic talent. We’re so proud to have joined these great partners 10 years ago to establish the Sony Pictures Media Arts Program, because by working together we are able to provide today’s youth with incredible opportunities to grow creatively.”

Of the City of Los Angeles’ role on the partnership, Leslie Thomas, DCA Community Arts Division Director said, “Ten years ago, DCA responded to Mayor Riordan’s mandate to assist the entertainment industry with preparing young people for jobs in animation and new media by working with Sony Pictures and CalArts to create the Sony Pictures Media Arts Program. I am so proud of the 10 years of success we’ve experienced since then, giving so many talented and deserving students the necessary arts education foundation and skill set to help them pursue their career dreams.”

For the celebration, SPMAP students, their families and special guests will attend a screening of the animated short films produced by the students in the program. They also will be treated to a party and arts and animation activities in the Sony Pictures Digital Production facilities.

“Close relationships with strong partners have been the cornerstone of our success for the 20 years of Sony Pictures Imageworks and 10 years of Sony Pictures Animation, anniversaries we are proud to share with this program as we welcome students, parents, and teachers to our campus,” said Osher.

The SPMAP curriculum, designed by CAP/SPMAP faculty, focuses on the development of each participant’s skills in the areas of composition, rendering, painting, ideas and concepts of design, exploration of personal style, animation and computer competency and usage.

Combining creative and technical training, the one-of-a-kind SPMAP program opens pathways to college and careers in media and the arts and creates a national model for arts education partnerships. Approximately 300 students a year go through this innovative after-school program, with many later attending CalArts and other institutions of higher learning.