SPARC inspires young people, ages 3-18, to reach their full potential through quality training in the performing arts. SPARC develops life skills among young performers, preparing them for productive lives and leadership.

Founded in 1981 by Jeri Cutler-Voltz, the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community has been “setting the stage for life” for the region’s youth for 30 years. SPARC students study a graduated, experience-based curriculum of acting, singing, and dance. In addition to building the skills for excellence in the performing arts, our students gain valuable life skills through our programs, such as poise, confidence, character, appreciation of diversity, and teamwork.

SPARC offers a range of classes for youth of every age at every stage. Students exploring the performing arts for the first time, as well as those looking toward a career in the arts, will find classes appropriate to their age and development. Classes held in the fall focus on process – building the age-appropriate skills that form the foundation for the performing arts. Classes held in the spring concentrate more on performance – how it feels to work toward a final, staged performance with a live audience. SPARC offers a full range of summer programming: half-day camps, full-day camps, acting intensive workshops, a touring performance ensemble, and a fully staged musical. SPARC's STAGES program provides performing arts training, during the school day and after school, for over 700 students in more than 25 schools in the Richmond region.

SPARC expands its reach statewide with New Voices for the Theater, a high school playwriting competition and residency program now in its 22nd year. High school students from all over Virginia submit one-act plays for adjudication, and the top eight playwrights come to Richmond for two weeks over the summer to work with a professional playwright-in-residence and hone their work toward a final, staged reading for a live audience.

In its highly successful three decades of service to the community, SPARC has had only three executive directors: founder Jeri Cutler-Voltz from 1981 to 1998, Jennie Brown from 1998 to 2009, and Ryan Ripperton (2010-present).

The School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community — a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation — is committed to the most fundamental principles of equality of opportunity and human dignity. SPARC does not discriminate in any of its programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status.

A wealth of further information about SPARC is contained in our GiveRichmond/GuideStar profile.

Past Leaders

Jeri Cutler-Voltz founded SPARC in 1981, and SPARC's effect on the lives of the region's youth is a daily tribute to her legacy. Read more >>

Jennie and Larry Brown guided SPARC through rapid and successful expansion from 1998-2009, and Jennie devoted 28 years of her career to SPARC. Read more >>

University Programs

SPARC provides this listing as a public service. While the following programs are generally considered substantial, this is only a partial list of worthy theater schools and departments.

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Local Theaters

There are literally hundreds of opportunities each year to see local theater in the Richmond community. SPARC strongly encourages you, your friends and family to attend Richmond theatrical productions as frequently as possible.

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