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Our History

Our History 2016-12-02T07:32:12+00:00

Late in 1999, our host site, Calvary Lutheran Church, received an estate gift from Richard Pendleton, a life-long, elderly member who had a distinguished career as a local jazz musician. Because of his interest in the arts, the commitment was made to complete an extensive community needs assessment to determine the need for a multicultural community school of the arts. The task force charged to do this assessment involved the following stakeholders in south Minneapolis: education, human services, arts communities, churches and families. The result was an overwhelming level of community support for a multicultural community school of the arts, named Urban Arts Academy. (Read more about Dick’s Jazz Club)

The initial oversight of this new venture was provided by The Crossroads Foundation, a not-for-profit community foundation created by Calvary Church. The Foundation, in turn, formed Urban Arts Academy. An initial Board of Directors was appointed in 2001 and in February 2002, the Academy received its approval as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Following a seven-week pilot program with 60 neighborhood youth in spring of 2001, the Urban Arts was officially launched in October 2001. Urban Arts  has run strong since that opening day, and it has evolved to include elementary and middle school programming after school throughout the academic year and Summer Arts Camp, which has grown from a two-week program in Year 1 to a full summer of theme- based arts camps.  In 2006 Preschool Arts was launched,  serving students three to five years of age with an early childhood arts infused education curriculum.

Today we are a vibrant organization that serves over 65 students yearly in the preschool, about 100 students in our After-School programs during the school year and over 500 slots in our Summer Arts camps.

Richard Pendleton
December 9, 1917 – May 24, 1999