School Overview

Our Purpose

The School For Creative & Performing Arts (SCPA) is a world-class arts magnet program designed to achieve technical mastery in an arts field and traditional academic curriculum.  The focus is arts education with an extensive academic program that meets Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) and state standards for high school diplomas. 

SCPA was founded in 1973 as part of the Bronson desegregation lawsuit settlement. As the city’s public school system was being overhauled to afford all students an equal, free, appropriate and integrated education, the school would provide not only topnotch academic instruction, but also pre-professional arts training. SCPA is an arts magnet school in the Cincinnati Public School (CPS) district, the third largest district in Ohio. In 2010, SCPA became the first and only K-12 magnet art school in the nation when CPS merged the K-3rd Schiel Primary School for Arts Enrichment with The School For the Creative & Performing Arts, a 4th-12th pre-professional art school. SCPA has produced notable graduates in virtually every artistic field, including award-winning actors, directors, singers, dancers, musicians, stage technicians, designers, and arts administrators. In addition to excelling in the arts, SCPA graduates have gone on to military service, law, medicine, and business.

SCPA is a world-class $72 million facility located in historic Over-the-Rhine. This state-of-the-art facility was championed by the late Cincinnati Pops Maestro Erich Kunzel and funded through a public-private partnership that raised more than $31 million in private contributions to match public funding. This landmark effort was led by Bill Knodel & the late Thomas J. Klinedinst, Jr., Presidents of the Greater Cincinnati Arts and Education Center/SCPA Fund. The building features specialized facilities for the arts, including three separate theaters. SCPA is located within the arts district including ArtsWave, ArtWorks, Cincinnati Art Academy, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Pops, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Memorial Hall, and Music Hall.

SCPA Exterior


Our Students

SCPA has approximately 1400 students and is accessible to all children who exhibit the talent and determination to succeed, regardless of the financial or family circumstances.  Approximately 10% of the students live outside the public-school district.  SCPA students come from 66 different zip codes, 29 different school districts, 3 counties in Ohio (Butler, Clermont, and Hamilton), 3 counties in Kentucky (Boone, Campbell, and Kenton), and one County in Indiana (Dearborn). Of the total student population, 90% resides in Hamilton County.  We are very proud of our student body diversity that is made up of Black (56%), Caucasian (30%), Hispanic (3%), Multiracial (9%) and Asian (1%).  Many of our students experience hardships leading to 53% of the SCPA student body living below poverty level, reaching as high as 85% in grades K-6.  Presently we have 14 students experiencing homelessness. 

Consistent with CPS magnet school policy, K-3 is a lottery-based entrance while grades 4-12 is a rigorous audition-based process placing students in one of the seven different artistic disciplines:  Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Instrumental Music, Technical Theater, Visual Arts and Vocal Music.  Five of these seven disciplines are Career Tech Certification programs.

  • 100% Graduation Rate:  2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 (For perspective national average is 85%, CPS average graduation rate is 87% and CPS magnet schools are 89%)
  • 100% Receiving Artistic Diplomas:  2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • 90% of Students are accepted into College or a Post-Secondary Program

When a student graduates from SCPA they will have obtained a High School Diploma, an Artistic Diploma and Career Tech Certification if eligible preparing them for a successful future.  When our students graduate, they are ready to compete globally in their chosen pathways — career, college, or military.

Greater Cincinnati Arts & Education Center (GCAEC) dba The SCPA Fund is a non-profit organization created to support the mission of academic and artistic excellence at the School For Creative & Performing Arts. Ongoing financial support is critical to maintaining the superior quality of SCPA’s artistic programs. The SCPA Fund provides $625 per student annually to enable and enhance SCPA programming.


Our Curriculum

Academics & Artistic Majors

SCPA Artistic departments include Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Instrumental Music, Technical Theater, Visual Arts, and Vocal Music. Arts classes are interspersed throughout the day. Each class meets daily for one or two periods of 46 minutes each. Many students take electives in their majors as well as required courses. Students must have at least 8 art credits for graduation, and they must maintain good standing in an art major. Our students perform on average of 295 performances annually. 

All students are admitted through highly selective auditions in the art majors. Students are often permitted to participate in more than one art major. Arts board exam reviews are conducted each semester to ensure that students maintain high artistic standards. Performance majors audition for elite ensembles in addition to taking daily classes. Dance and drama ensemble members also take technique classes. Electives are offered within most of the art majors so that students may achieve a thorough education. Private music lessons are available to any student who attends SCPA. All students have the opportunity to audition for age appropriate major productions.

Academically, state proficiency test scores at most grade levels are among the highest in the local system. Academic departments include English, World Language, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. 


Grades are reported on a 4-point scale for each quarter of the year. Honors and AP courses are given additional weight: 5.0 for A, 4.5 for B. Weighted GPA through the first semester of senior year establish final class rank. Students receive honor roll recognition for B average, A average, and all A’s.

Graduation Requirements

  • English requires 4 credits
  • Mathematics (Algebra 1-2, Geometry and one additional) requires 4 credits
  • Science (Biology, Chemistry and one additional) requires 3 credits
  • Social Studies (World History, US History, American Government/Economics) requires 3 credits
  • World Languages (Languages offered: German, Spanish and French)
  • Health requires .5 credit
  • Physical Education requires .5 credit
  • Fine arts requires 8 credits