SAVE WSPA! Don't let Daly City Displace Its Only Performing Arts Center!
SAVE Westlake School for the Performing Arts (WSPA)!
For more than 20 years, a quiet corner of the Westlake neighborhood in Daly City has been home to one of the most highly regarded schools for the Performing Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, if not the nation. The Westlake School for the Performing Arts (WSPA), housed since 1994 in the Doelger Arts Center, is in danger of closing, because the City Manager of Daly City is proposing to sell the property. WSPA, along with The School of Music and Fine Arts and Tiny Tots Preschool would be forced out if the city sells the property. Daly City has no current plans to find an alternate location for WSPA. Hundreds of Bay Area youth would lose a place they consider their home away from home if WSPA is displaced!
In 1991, Malu Rivera-Peoples, an acclaimed dancer of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance Company now known as Ballet Philippines, founded WSPA with Daly City Parks and Recreation with 35 students. In 1994, she was offered space in a former primary school in the Westlake neighborhood. Rivera-Peoples and her husband Paul personally installed dance mirrors, barres, and floors. Since then, the school has grown to include more than 25 faculty members, and has taught more than 15,000 children, adolescents, and young adults from every background from all over the Bay Area in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, modern, voice training, Polynesian dance, urban dance, and musical theater. Globally recognized guest teachers provide workshops. WSPA produces a full-length production of The Nutcracker at the Palace of Fine Arts every year, and offers a weekday performance to students in Bay Area schools. Researchers have shown the positive impact that arts education has on our youth. Youth exposed to the arts are more confident, expressive, and compassionate. WSPA has nurtured these in Bay Area youth for three generations. Rivera-Peoples believes WSPA is important because she sees her teachers and herself as educators who are building the whole person, someone who will grow to be a supporter of the arts and someone who loves dance. “We are building in them a love of the art,” she told Dance Teacher magazine in 2013. And unlike some other dance schools, WSPA’s student community reflects the diverse community that it calls home. In 2013, Dance Teacher magazine published a detailed profile of the school, calling it a “serious contender.” For her achievements, Malu Rivera-Peoples was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the nation by the Filipina Women’s Network and in 2013 she was celebrated by San Francisco's Mayor with a Lifetime Achievement Award during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Moreover, WSPA is known all over the nation and globe for producing some of the most amazing talents in the young performing arts world today; they are the next generation of professional dancers and performers. Our students have won countless regional and national awards at prestigious dance competitions. At the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition, the highly competitive and prestigious global ballet competition featured in the award-winning documentary First Position, WSPA has won “Outstanding School” six times. In 2015 and 2016, students from WSPA won two national titles at the New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) national competition. Also at NYCDA, year after year, our youth bring home Critics’ Choice awards at the regional and national levels, the highest award possible in the group dance category of the competition. Our pre-professional ballet program is highly respected throughout the world and our dancers have competed and medaled in the YAGP, World Ballet Competition, the International Ballet Competition/American Dance Competition, and performed throughout the nation and globe -- Asia and Europe -- to share their talents. Students from all over the Bay Area, state, and even from the Philippines take our Ballet Summer Intensive course with our ballet master, Viktor Kabaniaev.
Our musical theater program has produced many junior versions of popular musicals such as Little Mermaid and Into the Woods. They have even performed at Carnegie Hall and in Hollywood and received a number of accolades. Our now-legendary Polynesian dance company consistently places first in competitions throughout California. WSPA is also the home for “The Company,” our acclaimed urban dance team, who is recognized as one of the best hip hop dance teams in the world. People from all over nation come to take The Company’s workshops at WSPA. Patrick Cruz, the co-founder and director of The Company, recently performed as a member of the world-renowned Kinjaz Crew on the TV Show, America’s Best Dance Crew. Many alumni and teachers from WSPA have been featured in documentaries and movies (First Position, Sayaw, Dancing with Nureyev), and on TV (America’s Got Talent, America’s Best Dance Crew, So You Think You Can Dance?, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). In 2015, Daly City named WSPA student Jasmine Cruz their 2015 Youth of the Year, for her accomplishments in dance; Cruz won the Gold Medal at the recent International Ballet Competition. Our alumni have gone on to dance professionally, and teach dance all over the nation. The students of WSPA are also given the opportunity to serve their community--they have performed for events for the Daly City Doelger Senior Center, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, St. Mary’s Hospital, Seton Medical Center, and various schools in the Bay Area. Our students leave WSPA learning how to be fearless, confident, selfless, empathetic, and dedicated people.
In many ways WSPA has put Daly City, and the talents of its incredible youth, on the map. We need your support to make sure Daly City does not displace our school!
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1. Sign the SAVE WSPA Online Petition at change.org. If you can, add a testimonial as to why you think WSPA is important and why we should not be displaced.
2. Email, call, and write a letter directly addressed to the City Manager and the Mayor.
Dear Hon. Mayor Sal Torres and City Manager Patricia Martel,
I am writing to oppose the plan to displace Westlake School for the Performing Arts. WSPA is one of the most acclaimed Performing Arts schools in the nation, and it provides a home for our community and its families, instilling in them a love and passion for the arts and a place that they can learn to be their best selves. WSPA has made an incredible impact on Daly City and our entire Bay Area region, and it is a place that should make Daly City proud. Do not destroy one of the gems of Daly City and the larger Bay Area.
(your name and contact info).
Make sure to CC us at email@example.com
Address your letters to:
Patricia E. Martel, City Manager of Daly City
333 90th Street, Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 991-8127 firstname.lastname@example.org
Gonzalo “Sal” Torres, Mayor
333 90th Street, Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 991-8008 email@example.com
3. Send any testimonials (these can be written or video) to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Post images, videos, and statements on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and tag #savewspa #saveperformingarts #dalycity @wspadalycity
6. Show up to Daly City Council meetings to help show your support. We will send periodic updates on the dates and times of the meetings till we WIN this fight.
- City Manager of Daly City
- Mayor of Daly City
Gonzalo “Sal” Torres
SAVE WSPA! DON'T LET DALY CITY DISPLACE THE ONLY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER!
I am writing to oppose the plan to displace Westlake School for the Performing Arts for condos. WSPA is one of the most acclaimed performing arts schools in the nation, and it provides a home for our community and its families, instilling in them a love and passion for the arts and a place that they can learn to be their best selves. WSPA has made an incredible impact on Daly City and our entire Bay Area region, and it is a place that should make Daly City proud. Do not destroy one of the gems of Daly City and the larger Bay Area.
Today: Westlake School of the Performing Arts is counting on you
Westlake School of the Performing Arts needs your help with “SAVE WSPA! DON'T LET DALY CITY DISPLACE ITS ONLY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER!”. Join Westlake School of the Performing Arts and 6,739 supporters today.