The project, pioneered in Chicago and now running in Leeds and Manchester, is funded by the lottery - through Arts for Everyone - the European Social Fund, the Granada Foundation and local councils.
It consists of 24 partnerships between local authorities, regional arts boards, schools and industry.
Pat Cochrane, CAPE chief executive, said the organisation aims to develop creativity across the curriculum.
At Plant Hill high school, north Manchester, a predominantly white working-class area, boys take part in dance as well as conservation and cabinet-making. A local paint factory, one of the partners, provided contacts with local artists.
At Barlow RC high school in Didsbury, 20 15 and 16-year-olds work after school hours with a community arts group called Action Factory. They are making costumes for an arts festival production of Macbeth, designing a pond in the school grounds and doing a maths project with the Halle orchestra.
Gavin Reid, a trumpet player with Manchester Camerata, a chamber orchestra, said it was important that the programme had a long-term commitment. He works closely with Ian Gilbert, a physics teacher and a CAPE co-ordinator at Edgerton Park high school in Tameside, to plan the science curriculum.
Camerata gives "interactive concerts" to show how music relates to science - how human bodies produce sound, how sound is amplified, and how instruments work.
At Stretford high in Trafford, where 65 per cent of pupils are from ethnic minorities, two CAPE co-ordinators who are also teachers, set up a committee of 10 pupils to organise an African-Caribbean festival. This is to be followed with a play and a talent show.