Urban Arts Partnership’s programs are constantly evolving, along with the complex needs of today’s youth and public schools. Our approach to arts education has come about through years of experience and innovation.
“Urban Arts Partnership is amazing. This year they have helped me take the next step in getting accepted into the school of my choice and furthering my future architecture career.” – Sharif, Summer Scholarship Recipient, New Design High School
In December of 2007, the Board of Directors, with the full support of our staff, voted unanimously to change the organization’s name to Urban Arts Partnership, after seventeen years of serving New York City as Working Playground. The following is a brief history of our founding, development and growth.
In the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, the community suffers through four days of terrible riots fueled in part by ethnic and racial tensions. In response to media reporters forecasting no future relationships between young Jewish people, and African- and Caribbean-Americans, Amy Poux founds Working Playground, a youth and issues-based theatre company. The name, Working Playground, refers to the concept that from very little, children create work that is rich, original and imaginative.
A comprehensive literacy/theater arts program is created for children pre-kindergarten through the sixth grades. Public school partnerships develop and we begin to expand the scope of programming to include students in middle and high school.
We create The Studio Program in partnership with East Side Community High School, and launch it at seven additional schools, pairing teaching artists with humanities and math/science teachers.
Our model of arts integrated instruction, curriculum planning and professional development is spotlighted by the NYC Department of Education’s Director of Arts & Special Projects, Sharon Dunn, who includes The Studio Program in the international Conference on the Future of Arts Education.
We receive the New York State Award of Merit for The Studio Program, officially recognized by the New York State Council on the Arts.
We are one of the few organizations selected by the Center for Arts Education and the New York Times Foundation to join the School Arts Rescue Initiative – a response to the 9/11 tragedy that implements our Art of Recovery curriculum at 14 schools devastated by the attacks, in particular the High School for Leadership and Public Service that is located one block from Ground Zero.
Philip Courtney assumes position of Executive Director.
We co-found New Design High School, a progressive small high school that integrates the study of design and the arts into a four-year sequential curriculum.
We expand after-school programming through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants to include a total of 26 schools reached citywide.
Our programs expand to include a comprehensive model for in-school and after-school arts education called the Urban Arts Partnership program, positioning the arts as vital to a school’s academic and cultural life.
We co-found the Technology, Arts and Sciences Studio School and are brought on as lead arts partner for the Facing History School, both of which are new small public schools.
We develop the My New York program, an arts integration project that catalyzes English language learning for recent immigrants.
The Center for Arts Education recognizes the My New York program as a promising practice for English Language Learner youth instruction.
The Rush Philanthropic Foundation awards us the Rush Art for Life Award.
We move into our new offices in Downtown Manhattan, constructing an in-house media lab and training space for pre-professional, after-school and summer programs.
New Design High School graduates its inaugural class with a 76% graduation rate – more than doubling that of the high school it replaced.
Niclas Nagler establishes the Nagler Scholarship that awards a four-year $40,000 scholarship to one of our exemplary students each year.
Working Playground unveils its new name, Urban Arts Partnership, at its Third Annual Urban Arts Festival, a day-long and evening showcase of outstanding original works by students from our 45 schools from across the city. Longtime Artistic Board member Rosie Perez is on hand to express her continued support as we move into our next phase as a leading arts education organization in New York City.
Urban Arts Partnership becomes the first arts organization to be awarded funding by Robin Hood, a competitive foundation known for funding programs with proven methods for breaking the cycle of poverty, to support the expansion of the Fresh Prep program. The organization hosts The Promise of Arts Education, a panel of education experts and decision makers moderated by Soledad O’Brien, to discuss how arts integration can drive innovation in NYC public schools.
Urban Arts Partnership is awarded a United States Department of Education Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant for further implementation of the Story Studio project, which provides arts-integrated literacy development for English Language Learner students in middle school. Executive Director Philip Courtney speaks about innovation in public schools at TEDxDUMBO.
The Black Eyed Peas’ Peapod Foundation and Adobe Foundation choose UAP to run the first Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy in New York, which is headquartered in our brand new expanded office space and learning center at 21 Howard Street in Soho. We celebrate the 10th Anniversary of The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway Benefit and host the first annual 24 Hour Plays: Los Angeles, both presented by Montblanc. The LA event heralds the expansion of Urban Arts to Los Angeles-area schools. Fresh Prep expands further and is featured by NBC’s Cause Celeb, The New York Times, and The CBS Early Show.
For up-to-the-minute Urban Arts updates and detailed history, visit our News & Press page.
- New York State Award of Merit
- Rush Art for Life Award
- 1st Prize, Chicago International Children's Film Festival '07
- Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival '07
- Official Selection, Urban Visionaries Festival