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By ITS Education Asia

Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS) has long been recognised amongst international schools as offering one of the top arts programmes.

The school’s arts programmes, which consist of both visual and performing arts, represent an exciting opportunity for the 1,800 CDNIS students to grow in their artistic skills and in their artistic appreciation. In particular, the arts programmes develop creative problem solvers who are able to think outside the box, connecting well with the school’s strong International Baccalaureate curricula.    

According to Upper School Guidance Counsellor Scott Atherton, one of the key factors behind the school’s success is the strong emphasis that it places on its arts programmes, along with the continued investment that CDNIS has made to keep it a strong and vital option all the way through the IBDP programme.

“It does seem to me that the arts are highly valued, encouraged, and supported at CDNIS, and I think that has much to do with the success of the programme,” said Atherton. “We have a number of students who graduate and go on to some of the finest arts schools in the world in visual arts, including film. Many schools seem to have robust music and drama programmes, as do we, but it is our strength in the visual arts that I believe distinguishes us from other schools.”

Atherton’s comments are further supported by Head of Upper School Guidance, Catherine Irvine, who expressed her opinion that the whole child is celebrated at CDNIS. Students are free to pursue their own individual interests and talents, while being applauded and recognised for it regardless of discipline. It’s a mutual relationship between both institution and community, as students work hard, are highly successful in a variety of ways, and all are equally respected for it.

“Whilst society influences Art, it can also be said that Art influences society. At CDNIS, we value Artists as highly as Scientists, Sportspeople, the Business Community and the Academic Community because, as a community, we recognise the equal value of each part of society. We really don't see any aspect of a multi-faceted community/individual as being more important than another.”

The combination of offering both performing and visual arts is a powerful one, but as Upper School Guidance Counsellor Rob Aldridge noted, students also require the right environment to nurture their talents and inspire them to flourish. This was the motivation behind the development of the Leo Lee Arts Centre (LLAC) – a HK$100 million multi-storey complex dedicated to the arts that consists of a 604-seat auditorium, music rooms, art rooms, drama studio, orchestra pit and a retractable stage. Since opening its doors in 2008, the LLAC has held professional performances, including some of the most highly regarded artists in the world, and been used to accommodate a regular calendar of exciting arts-related events.

Aldridge said: “Access to the LLAC has proven to be just as important as the strong encouragement and value that CDNIS places in its Arts Programmes. The professional centre encourages children and staff ‘to raise their game’ to match the venue. Give kids an Arts Centre and they'll act like artists!”

Another major initiative that has contributed to CDNIS’ Arts Programmes success is “Artist in Residence”, which sees the school invite professional artists onto campus to help provide students with exposure to different art forms. Since its launch in 2010, the initiative has been very positively received by the school’s community and attracted significant talent including renowned Canadian totem carver Bill Helin, Australian percussionist and educator Steve Stiller, and designer of the worldwide hit children’s TV show “Bob the Builder”, Curtis Jobling.


The success of the CDNIS Arts Programmes has resulted in CDNIS students being accepted into some of the world’s most prestigious higher education art institutions. As the CDNIS Guidance team proudly noted: “Our students have an excellent record with admissions into Tisch, the very highly regarded theatre program at NYU. We also have many students studying at prestigious fine arts schools in US, Canada and UK. In fact this year, one student has been admitted to Cambridge for Music.”

For further information on CDNIS, visit www.cdnis.edu.hk


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