Discover Arts Enterprise Laboratory (AEL)

Only at Idyllwild Arts can students participate in a trailblazing extracurricular program that combines grants, strategic partnerships, masterclasses, and alumni engagements to provide unrivaled real-world training, exposure, and experiences.

AEL student dance performance.


The Arts Enterprise Laboratory (AEL) program is a launching pad for students who want to learn more and achieve more, equipping them with concrete professional skills and access to public platforms unattainable at any other art high school.

Above all, AEL participants learn how to be self-directed in their ideas and pursuits, giving them the ownership that will propel their creativity and self-discovery into the professional world.

AEL was formed to supplement our students’ robust curriculum with entrepreneurial opportunities to develop real-life skills applicable to an enterprising career in the arts. These opportunities include:

Training in Concrete Life Skills

Unique Performance Platforms and Live Audiences

Unparalleled Access to Industry Experts

Portfolio-Building Achievements

A guitarist performing.

Student Grants

AEL students competitively apply for grants to support the conceptualization, production, and promotion of original work during the school year or over summer break. To participate in the program, students are required to complete a full grant application process, including researching, writing, and budgeting for their grant proposal. Grantees also learn how to read, understand, negotiate, and sign an official contract. Under dedicated faculty mentorship, AEL students learn to create schedules, manage budgets, deliver on grant requirements, and recruit and collaborate with other artists. With the resources and support of AEL, new visions are born and brought to life.

AEL students at the aquarium.

Strategic Partnerships

AEL students  take part in special projects at the intersection of arts and the workforce, helping to bridge the gap between creativity and practicality. AEL is committed to creating lasting connections with programs throughout the larger community, ensuring an ongoing exchange of ideas, inspiration, and creativity and bringing arts education to underserved communities. 

AEL Strategic Partnerships have included:

  • Art Hearts Fashion for a student runway show at Los Angeles Fashion Week
  • The Aquarium of the Pacific for a collaborative S.T.E.A.M. children’s book and a Sustainable Fashion expo
  • Park Western Place / Harbor Magnet School in San Pedro for a musical instrument donation and Jazz concert
  • …and many more!
A jazz masterclass.


Through funding and curated network connections, AEL provides unprecedented access to high-caliber professional artists through forums, workshops, and classes across majors, arts, and academic subjects, imparting tangible, industry-specific skills.

AEL-Funded Masterclasses have included:

  • A two-day, hands-on steadicam workshop with Brian Lataille for the Film & Digital Media department
  • An improv workshop with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Rachel Gartside for the InterArts department
  • Student participation at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference for the Visual Arts department
Two alumni.

Alumni Relations

In collaboration with the Alumni Relations office, AEL builds and strengthens relationships with alumni by bringing them to campus to speak with current students about life beyond Idyllwild Arts Academy. 

AEL-facilitated Alumni sessions have included:

  • An audition workshop for the Dramatic Arts department with Emilie Battle (‘05) and award-winning actor Jevon McFerrin
  • A senior luncheon speech by jazz violinist Nora Germain (‘09)
  • A juried playwriting competition and workshop with YA author Amber Morrell (‘11) and playwright Scarlett McCarthy (‘12)

Accepting Applications for Fall 2024