Mission & History

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McCallum Fine Arts Academy: Educate. Inspire. Empower


The mission of the McCallum Fine Arts Academy is to foster and advance a diverse group of student artists who will create, lead, inspire, and contribute to a global community.​

Our Five Pillars

The McCallum Fine Arts Academy:

  1. Focuses on the individual development of each student
  2. Provides high quality instruction
  3. Integrates collaborative, intentional, reciprocal relationships with the broader Austin arts community into our programs/classrooms/instruction
  4. Encourages an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum and instruction, and
  5. Graduates students who can produce a pre-professional level of product in their chosen art form.

History of the Academy

A group of Austin community members who realized the value of drawing together like-minded arts students to study and learn from arts experts and from each other initiated and coordinated the movement for a fine arts intensive high school in Austin in the early 1990s. This community group asked for guidance on where to create a fine arts academy in Austin from Ruth Denney, who founded Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts after retiring as a professor at The University of Texas at Austin. Ms. Denney recommended McCallum High School as the site for the fine arts academy due to its rich history of excellence in arts education and its close proximity to a high concentration of community arts organizations.

Partly as a result of Denney’s involvement, the McCallum Fine Arts Academy was embraced by The University of Texas College of Fine Arts from its inception and enjoys a strong partnership which continues today. The McCallum Fine Arts Academy also collaborates with the Austin Chamber Music Center, Texas State University, the Austin Classical Guitar Society, ZACH Theatre, the Austin Symphony, MINDPOP, and myriad other artists, community organizations, and cultural and educational institutions to provide the highest level of experiential learning opportunities to our students.

Awards and Accomplishments

  • Attracts families back to AISD’s public school system from private, charter, and home schools.
  • Sends most graduates on to 4-year colleges.
  • Increased Fine Arts Academy enrollment from 17 in 1994 to over 500 today.
  • Enlarged the full-time fine arts faculty to now 20 (supervising 10 fine arts areas of study) in order to
    • have a highly-qualified professional as the teacher of record for every arts course and
    • to meet the artistic and educational needs of McCallum students.
  • Expanded program offerings by adding a four-year technical theatre track, a cinematic arts major, a collaborative piano program, string instrumental technique classes and more every year.
  • Bolstered Academy visibility with a professionally designed logo, creation and maintenance of  the Academy website, and increased social media coverage.
  • Designed and successfully raised funds to create the Fine Arts Courtyard. This landscaped area now has covered picnic area and an amphitheater with a stage and tiered seating.
  • Dedicated the McCallum Arts Center in 2011, which houses three new art classrooms and a 500-seat theatre and shop space.
  • Celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Fine Arts Academy in 2014.
  • Celebrated McCallum’s GRAMMY® Foundation awards as a GRAMMY® Signature School finalist in 2005 and then again as the #1 National GRAMMY® Signature School in 2015.

See the individual program pages for awards won by various departments within the Academy.