New York City's Working Playground Becomes Urban Arts Partnership. Acclaimed Not-for-Profit Organization Changes Name to Reflect Growth and Diversity

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Working Playground, founded in 1991 as a not-for-profit cultural organization based on the belief that art is essential to human development, education and culture, has changed its name to the Urban Arts Partnership to reflect growth and diversity. The UAP creates and provides arts education and integration programs to underserved schools and communities throughout New York City. Urban Arts Partnership currently partners with 45 underserved schools: impacting more than 10,000 students annually with the mission of strengthening underserved public schools by providing arts-based solutions to urban educational issues.

The ability to give back, in their programs such as Master Class, has made a profound impact on me. Working with students' hearts and minds, so full of creative potential, inspires me deeply. The opportunity to bring arts teaching back into the school does not only give me great personal satisfaction but drives me more in my own work.

This year, Working Playground's Board of Directors unanimously voted to change the name to Urban Arts Partnership. Since 1991, Working Playground has served the New York City community with excellent art programs reaching more than 250 schools and over 60,000 students, teachers and community members.

Every year, Urban Arts Partnership adapts its programs to an evolving educational landscape which has led to the evolutionary process of changing the organization's name. Working Playground, since 1991, served the New York City Community with excellent arts programs reaching more than 250 schools and over 60,000 students, teachers and community members. It has been an organization that every year has bettered itself, adapting to an evolving educational landscape. It is, with this attitude, that the organization's decision to change its name came as a natural step in the evolutionary process. Between 2004 and 2008 the organization has grown from serving 28 to 45 schools. In the process, UAP principles partner with other educators to co-found smaller , to serving 45, and in the process has co-founded new small schools, creating ed promising practices in arts education, and helping to ed bring out the inspired potential of thousands of college-bound students and their teachers.

"We have grown, a lot -- not just in how many schools or students we serve, but in depth and our approach to service and partnership. We have developed new areas of expertise: opening small schools that put the arts at the center of their curriculum; developing arts based strategies for reaching English language learners; and bridging the digital divide by putting cutting edge media arts technologies into the hands of underserved youth." says, Philip Courtney, Director of Urban Arts Partnership. "We have built rich relationships with partnering not-for-profits to maximize our leverage in carrying out our mission and have created innovative volunteer opportunities for our corporate donors to get more involved in the programs they are funding. Our Artistic Board, led by Rosie Perez, is now more hands on than ever, making year round connections with our youth. And, our Board of Directors, with its unprecedented growth, is poised, and thoroughly excited to lead Urban Arts Partnership into its next stage of development."

With programs in theater, video, visual arts, dance, design, poetry, and music, Urban Arts Partnership will continue its work with an evolved mission: strengthening underserved public schools by providing arts based solutions to urban educational issues.

Dr. Scott Conti, Principal of New Design High School, a school that was co-founded by Urban Arts, notes that "Being a new school and having an organization support us in defining our
mission and vision has been huge. They have given us a vibrant art design based community that prevails in every part of the school. They have been instrumental in students' academic growth, reading, writing, grades, their artistic growth and their social skills. UAP makes us able to have the capacity to do so much more than we would have been able to do alone. That is major for a starting school."

"Students are transformed by Urban Arts Partnership - socially, emotionally, and academically," says Britney Montgomery, social studies teacher at M131 in Chinatown, New York City. "Arts integration affords my students new opportunities to be suc¬cessful while enhancing their learning. A multi- sensory llearning approach makes the content accessible to students with disabilities or English Language Learners. My students' learning has been dramatically impacted and they have been given a chance to experience real life skills. Making an anima¬tion teaches my students leadership, teamwork, creativity, and technology. These skills are necessary to function in almost any job today. The program makes a profound impact on the kind of adults my students will become."

Since its inception, the organization has become a highly- respected institution in New York City and has received ongoing funding from The National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and the Department of Cultural Affairs. It has also attracted the attention and participation of numerous artists, including: Rosie Perez, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matthew Lillard, Mariska Hargitay, David Cross and MTV news correspondent Sway who have offered their tireless support as fundraisers and as instructors in the Urban Arts Partnership's "Master Class Series".

As Rosie Perez told a group of students at this year's Master Class Series held at the Facing History School in mid-town Manhattan, "When you break through your fear, you step you're your greatness," which helps helping students understand how to excel in their art form and as students. Another Artistic Board member on hand, Michael Kenneth Williams (HBO's The Wire), spoke of the reciprocal nature of the Master Class series and of his role on Urban Arts Partnership's Artistic Board - "The ability to give back, in their programs such as Master Class, has made a profound impact on me. Working with students' hearts and minds, so full of creative potential, inspires me deeply. The opportunity to bring arts teaching back into the school does not only give me great personal satisfaction but drives me more in my own work."

Schools participating in the Urban Arts Partnership programs experience higher attendance rates, a reduction in violent incidents and a stronger sense of community for students, teachers and parents.

Urban Arts Partnership(formerly known as Working Playground), founded in 1991 as a not-for-profit cultural organization based on the belief that art is essential to human development, education and culture, provides arts education and integration programs to underserved schools and communities throughout New York City. Urban Arts Partnership currently partners with 45 underserved schools: impacting more than 10,000 students annually with the mission of strengthening underserved public schools by providing arts-based solutions to urban educational issues.

For over 17 years, the Urban Arts Partnership's community-based in-school and after-school programs have taught New York City's youth to develop the creative and analytic impulses that serve them as academic achievers, budding professionals, and active citizens through a range of quality arts-based projects designed to empower participating youth and their communities. The organization has honed its original methodology for K-12 arts instruction and academic integration through model programs connected to today's issues and concerns, utilizing a dynamic range of art forms that include theater, animation, film, photography, fashion & product design, instrument-building, dance performance, poetry and the visual arts. http://www.urbanarts.org

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Darcie Rowan


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