In 1967, a handful of West Philadelphia artists, art lovers and interested neighbors came together to form what is now the University City Arts League. Within two years, the group attained non-profit status, purchased a semi-detached four-story Victorian twin at 4226 Spruce Street, and began offering classes and programs. This spirit of innovation and commitment to creativity is still alive at the Arts League today.
While our programs have changed with the times, we remain true to our original vision of bringing art to the community by providing a welcoming space for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy the arts. Capoeira and yoga classes now outnumber more traditional dance classes. Art includes graphic design and other computer-based classes. Our gallery regularly features exhibits of some of the most exciting local artists and craftspeople. A thriving after-school program and summer camp have made us the go-to spot for children’s programming for many families. These changes are reflected in organizational growth. Between 2009 and 2014, the annual budget grew from $240,000 to $370,000. The after-school program expanded to 225 students per week from 10 a decade ago. Recent years have also seen a growth in outreach to local schools and organizations, and an investment of nearly $100,000 in facility upgrades. The facility now includes three art studios, two dance studios, a sophisticated computer lab, a communal room used for classes and meetings, a dedicated gallery space and a complete two-room pottery studio located on the premises. As a result, today, some 5,000 students each year, from tots to older adults, experience the arts through our programs. Our strong relationships with community partners enable us to bring arts to schools and non-profits more widely than ever before. Almost no neighborhood fair takes place without an Arts League presence. We reach an additional 7,000 people through outreach and community events. Explore our web site to learn more about how the Arts League can become your home for the arts.