Performing Arts Excellence Project

What is PAEP?

DASH’s largest project is a college/professional preparatory program for artistically driven youth. The Performing Arts Excellence Program (PAEP) is an intensive, 4-6 class per week performing arts program that requires full engagement. For many youth, this program keeps them off the streets and out of trouble, and keeps their sights on collegiate and professional opportunities. All young people ages 10-21 are eligible to participate in PAEP. Youth are able to receive both full and partial scholarships to participate.

How it works

Performing Arts Excellence Project (PAEP) is growing into the premier arts education program and higher arts education preparatory program in Tacoma-Pierce County. PAEP is a very rigorous program. It is designed for the youth who desires to go further in their performing arts education and experiences. This program is not for the youth who wants to attend the DASH Center as just an after-school program or a hobby. DASH offers different programs and classes for that.


Every September, youth audition to receive scholarships to PAEP. Those accepted into the program, choose a specific discipline on which they will focus their studies. Students then choose three classes specific to their discipline and up to two electives. Youth then attend their chosen classes for a full year, at the end of which they may re-audition for the next year. Special workshops and events will be hosted for youth enrolled in this program.


Unlike other programs that seek to help kids but lack in contemporary design or relevance, DASH tailors the PAEP class catalog to the interests of inner-city youth. Additionally, class schedules are determined by the particular focus of each student. Whether drawn to singing, writing, producing, dancing and/or theater, there is a program for every young performing artist. The class catalog includes: music theory, music production, studio-recording, singing, instrumental instruction (guitar, piano, and drums), the Art of Hip-Hop workshop, ballet, tap, lyrical, hip-hop, and jazz dance classes, acting/theater classes, photography, videography, and graphic design. Students have the opportunity to showcase their acquired skills at three productions throughout the year.

Success Story

Sierra, a nine-year-old Native American/Hispanic girl from Eatonville, WA, enrolled in September 2010 in dance and music classes with PAEP. Since that time, not only has she found a passion for dance and music, but she has worked hard to improve her grades. According to her mid-year report card for the 2010-2011 school year, her teacher noted: “Sierra has shown marked improvement in her work habits, demonstrating more accountability for her own learning. In reading she scored 174 words per minute on fluency and 94% on comprehension and has increased her STAR score from 5.5 to a 6.6 grade equivalent.” Beyond her report card, Sierra’s parents noted a tremendously positive attitude and marked behavior improvements. They shared that these changes have been acknowledged by at least three of her schoolteachers. Best of all, Sierra has asked her parents to take even more classes at DASH. She is truly thriving as an active member of PAEP and is currently taking: Acting, Drums, Ballet, Hip Hop II & Piano.

Schedule for the year (when applications are due)

  • Applications Due: Nov 16, 2012
  • Interviews: Notified within 3 days of submission
  • Placement Auditions: Nov 2012
  • PAEP Classes start: Nov 13, 2012
  • Winter Recital: Second Saturday in December
  • Mid-Season Auditions: First two weeks of January
  • Spring Performance Opportunity
  • Year-End Recital: June 23, 2013

 List of qualifications and criterion

  • PAEP runs for one year. All students, especially scholarship students, are expected to complete the run of the project.
  • Youth are required to maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA in school.
  • Everyone is to be dressed and ready for class at least 10 minutes before class starts. Students arriving to class more than 10 minutes late will not be allowed to enter. After five (5) tardies, students will be placed on leave. Parents will need to schedule a meeting with Review Committee before student will be allowed to re-attend program.
  • Students are required to practice a minimum of 4 hours per week (1 hour for each class), outside of class.
  • Each program and class has a preset curriculum. Students will be evaluated quarterly to monitor progress.
  • Students are expected to receive “passing” or “excelling” marks in each class for all evaluation points.
  • “Not Passing” marks may result in revocation of scholarship or dismissal from program.

Tuition and Fees

  • Registration fee is $100 to participate, paid in full or two installments of $50 (Sept & Dec)
  • Tuition for the program is $120 per month. Considering the stellar education and training students receive, this cost is amazingly low.
  • 30 full scholarship and 20 partial scholarships are available for families with financial need. Please apply for these if the tuition will cause your family hardship. We don’t want to turn any child away!
  • Families receiving scholarships are expected to complete the full year of the program and fulfill program obligations. Families may be expected to repay balance of scholarship funding if student does not complete program.
  • Costume costs are the responsibility of each family.
  • Limited work-study positions are available for teens without financial support.

Parental/Familial Contributions

  • Parents or adult family members of students receiving scholarships are required to fulfill 15 hours of volunteer service with the DASH Center each month. This helps us to keep cost low and continue to offer scholarships.
  • All parents are required to serve on one of 3 committees: Community Presence, Fundraising, Events.
  • Committees will meet once a month. Attendance and participation at meetings count toward hours.
  • There will be one major musical, one major recital, and one in-studio show. Parents will have the opportunity to volunteer at such events.
  • Each family is obligated to sell at least 10 tickets to each event, so get your list of supporters together early!
  • Families are expected to fully participate in all fundraisers and fundraising events.
  • Teens who do not have familial support are encouraged to find school counselors, adult friends, or mentors to help fulfill volunteer hours.
  • Each family is responsible for adopting a school. You will be the face of DASH in that school. This is will help us better distribute information to students and teachers at this school.

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