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The Specialist Visual And Performing Arts (SVAPA) program at Mount Lawley Senior High School is a middle school contemporary cross-arts course, running from year 7 to year 9.

SVAPA focuses on connections within the arts disciplines rather than teaching them in isolation. It was created to meet the needs of an intake that were creative and community oriented. The three year program is the first and only one of its kind in the state.

Auditions take place in year 6 across music, art, drama and includes a portfolio submission. The program takes 32 merit selected students per year.

Since its inception, it has grown into a highly esteemed and respected industry led program with an emphasis on experimental and contemporary work.

Students enjoy a wide range of extracurricular activities, projects, excursions, tours and numerous opportunities to work with professional artists.

SVAPA Vision

It is the program's intent to deliver a course, which is contemporary, experimental, innovative and holistic.

In delivering this course, we aim to create inquisitive and playful students who will have the ability to become self-sustainable artists, work cooperatively alongside professionals and become industry ready.

SVAPA Successes

Students in SVAPA enjoy the enrichment workshops and being in classes of creative, keen peers who respond enthusiastically to the heightened expectations of their specialist teachers.

Because we believe our students are innovative artists and they have been trained to work collaboratively alongside professionals, we have a large uptake of students pursuing a career in the arts. Notable alumni are Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), Asher Yasbincek (The Heights), Shannon Berry (Packed to the Rafters), Isabelle McDonald (award winning theatre maker), not to mention countless musicians, artists, backstage techies and arts administrators.

Early Morning Class

Period Zero classes allow students to extend their arts skills, ability and maturity as they work with arts professionals artists across  a range of forms – puppetry, animation, improvisation, dance, pottery, collage, installation, sound, broadcasting, script writing, curating, movement, circus, song writing, live art, painting, sculpture and, performance making. Attendance is mandatory.

Weekend Workshops

Once a term, SVAPA students attend a Saturday workshop to extend and support the programs curriculum. It is a chance for all year groups to mingle with each other as well as work across all the Arts. In the past we have welcomed Josh Hogan and Elise Reitze (Music), Chris Isaacs and StJohn Cowcher (Puppetry and Performance), Jodee Knowles and Tane Andrews (Illustration), Nathan Beard and Abdul Abdullah (Painting) for the workshops.

Arts Festival Day

The Arts Festival Day is held at the end of April or early May.

It involves the whole school in an afternoon of arts activities and events. SVAPA students take on leading roles throughout the day.

Professional Learning Community

SVAPA students are privileged to work with leading theatre, music and dance companies as well as established and emerging artists.

Events range from workshops and productions to provocations and guidance.

SVAPA students have worked with artists from Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, ECU and WAAPA, CO3 Dance Company, The Last Great Hunt, PVI Collective, WAYTCo, The Blue Room and Bell Shakespeare.

Artist in Residency

The program supports an annual Artist in Residence to create a large scale performance/exhibition.

Past participants include Ian Wilkes (Yirra Yaakin), James Berlyn (WAYTCo), Chloe Flockart and Naomi Corteen.

Excursions & Incursions

Exposure to plays, concerts, performances, exhibitions and films are tremendously important to a well-rounded arts student.

The calendar is full of incursions and excursions to Perth Festival, PICA, Art Gallery of Western Australia, The Blue Room, Perth Concert Hall, The State Theatre and Awesome Festival.

SVAPA Camps & International Tours

Year 7 & 8 SVAPA classes attend an annual camp at Point Walter.

This is to allow the groups to work together and to introduce the new students into the cross arts focus of the SVAPA course. The students develop their creative arts' practices as well as forming closer friendships.

Students also attend annual music camp, which is comprised of rehearsals and other musical team building activities.

Different ensembles are taken each year.

Traditionally a tri-annual SVAPA Arts Tour to London and Paris/Berlin takes place in the April holidays. Arts teachers take a group of students from years 9-11 on a once-in-a lifetime experience.

The aim is to expose the students to as many arts as possible – students have had workshops with the National Theatre, Saatchi Gallery, Globe Theatre, Berliner Ensemble, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Tate Modern as well as with notable companies, Punchdrunk and Frantic Assembly.

Students have also viewed work at the British Film Institute, Opera at Palais Garnier and Komische Oper, Art at the Musée d'Orsay, White Cube, The Lourve, Music at the Berliner Philharmoniker and Caberet in East Berlin.

Senior School

Success in Senior School arises from interest, developing excellence and a joy of learning that is nurtured by the SVAPA pedagogy.

We offer ATAR Drama, Art, Music and Media as well as a Certificate II in Creative Industries and a Certificate III in Music Industry (Performance).

These programs give students some very exciting options.

Selection Process for SVAPA

Audition Workshops

Students will attend 3 auditions over two days.

The Drama and Art auditions run for 60 minutes afterschool and the Music audition runs for 15 minutes within school hours.

Students will need to memorise a piece of literature for the Drama workshop (audition material will be available for download with Application Information) and bring in their instrument for their music audition.

Portfolio Submission

  • A cover page with name, photo, address, phone number and attending primary school.
  • A hand written letter, by the student, explaining why they would like to be part of the SVAPA Program.
  • Copy of the most recent school report
  • An A4 portfolio
  • Five to Eight pages of creative work: originals or photographs of visual art.
  • USB sticks can be submitted with videos of performance, dance, music attached (please make sure the videos are compatible to MAC computers).
  • Tick Box Reference from Primary School Teacher (PDF Supplied with Application Information). Needs to be in a sealed envelope for privacy.

The Portfolio is to be submitted to the Middle School Office by the due date as indicated on the Application Form.

Students will be notified of the selection workshop dates and times by letter.

SVAPA Portfolio Application Example portfolio_cover.png

General Information

Please be aware that SVAPA is 3-year course with a contemporary and experimental arts focus and as such, students will be exposed to a range of mature and thought-provoking work from varying artists.

These discussions will be led in a supportive and inclusive manner.

If you do not feel comfortable with your child being showed contemporary art and performance work, a generalist arts course would more suitable.

SVAPA Forms and Application Information

Visit our SVAPA Forms and Application page for current information.

SVAPA Newsletter

Visit our SVAPA Newsletter page for current information.