Mission & History


The dual mission of this extraordinary specialized high school is to provide each student with professional preparation in conservatory arts education and in college preparatory academic education.


A Brief History of LaGuardia Arts: A Tradition of Excellence in Arts Education (The “Fame” School)

In 1936, New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia founded the High School of Music & Art in order to provide a facility where the most gifted and talented public school students of New York City could pursue their talents in art or music, while also completing a full academic program of instruction. In 1948, the School of Performing Arts was created to provide training in performance skills to students who wished to prepare for professional careers in dance, music or drama. The two schools became one organization in 1961, in anticipation of a move to a single building at Lincoln Center designed to meet the specialized needs of those gifted and talented youngsters chosen to attend.

In 1969, the Board of Education honored Mayor LaGuardia by naming the new building at Lincoln Center after him and in September 1984, after more than 20 years of waiting, Music & Art and Performing Arts came together in their new and magnificent facility, complete with a state-of-the-art concert hall and Theatre.
LaGuardia Arts is one of the original four specialized high schools in New York City, as established by the New York State Legislature in 1972. The Calandra-Hecht Bill provides for the “establishment and maintenance” of this specialized school of the arts, as well as Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Technical High School. This bill states that Candidates for admission to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts and other schools which may be established with similar programs in the arts, shall be required to pass competitive examinations in music and/or the arts in addition to presenting evidence of satisfactory achievement.

Currently there are nine specialized high schools in New York City, and LaGuardia Arts remains the sole specialized school for the arts.
LaGuardia Arts was the first school in the nation to provide a free, publicly funded program for students with talents in the arts. Our model has been replicated in other urban school districts throughout the country.

Over the years, the school has earned an international reputation for excellence, the accomplishments of our graduates serving as the most vivid proof of the value and worth of our specialized programs of instruction. Our alumni have distinguished themselves in virtually every field of endeavor, including the arts and sciences as well as public service and other professions.