University of the Arts (Philadelphia)

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Coordinates: 39°56′46″N 75°09′58″W / 39.946°N 75.166°W / 39.946; -75.166

University of the Arts
WTP D23 AMP 1.jpg
University of the Arts
Established1870, 1876, 1985
Endowment$54.1 million (2020)[1]
PresidentDavid Yager
Academic staff
121 full time, 420 part time
Location, ,
United States
Colors  Red
University of the Arts logo.svg

The University of the Arts (UArts) is a university of visual and performing arts based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its campus makes up part of the Avenue of the Arts in Center City, Philadelphia. Dating back to the 1870s, it is one of the oldest schools of art or music in the United States.

The university is composed of two colleges and two Divisions: the College of Art, Media & Design; the College of Performing Arts; the Division of Liberal Arts; and the Division of Continuing Studies. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In addition, the School of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.[2]


The Dorrance Hamilton Hall in 2013

The university was created in 1985 by the merger of the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts and the Philadelphia College of Art, two schools that trace their origins to the 1870s.

In 1870, the Philadelphia Musical Academy was created, and in 1877 the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music was founded. In 1944, the Children's Dance Theatre, later known as the Philadelphia Dance Academy, was established by Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck. In 1962, the Conservatory of Music and the Musical Academy merged, then, in 1976, the combined organization acquired the Dance Academy, and renamed itself the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts. After establishing a School of Theater in 1983, the institution became the first performing arts college in Pennsylvania to offer a comprehensive range of majors in music, dance and theater. This institution is now the College of Performing Arts of the University of the Arts.

In 1876, the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art was founded as a museum and art school. In 1938, the museum changed its name to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the school became the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art.[3] In 1964, the school became independent of the museum and renamed itself the Philadelphia College of Art.

In 1985, the Philadelphia College of Art and the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts merged to become the Philadelphia Colleges of the Arts, and gained university status as the University of the Arts in 1987. In 1996, the university added a third academic division, the College of Media and Communication, which merged with the College of Art and Design in 2011 to become the College of Art, Media & Design.


The University of the Arts' nearly 1,900 students are enrolled in 41 undergraduate and graduate programs in six schools: Art, Design, Film, Dance, Music and the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts. In addition, the university's Division of Continuing Studies offers courses through its Continuing Education, Pre-College, Summer Music Studies, and Professional Institute for Educators programs.

Facilities and collections[edit]

The university's campus, located in the Avenue of the Arts cultural district of Center City, Philadelphia, includes 10 buildings with more than 850,000 square feet (79,000 m2).

The Albert M. Greenfield Library houses 152,067 bound volumes, 6,936 CDs, 14,901 periodicals, 16,820 scores and 1965 videos and DVDs. The Music Library collection holds about 20,000 scores, 15,000 books, 10,000 LP discs, and 8,000 CDs. The Visual Resources Collection includes 175,000 slides. Additional university collections include the University Archives, the Picture File, the Book Arts and Textile Collections, and the Drawing Resource Center.

UArts' 10 galleries include one curated by students. Exhibitions have included the Quay Brothers, Vito Acconci, R. Crumb, Rosalyn Drexler, April Gornik, Alex Grey, James Hyde, Jon Kessler, Donald Lipski, Robert Motherwell, Stuart Netsky, Irving Penn, Jack Pierson, Anne and Patrick Poirier, Yvonne Rainer, Lenore Tawney and Andy Warhol.

The University of the Arts currently has seven theaters. The Levitt Auditorium in Gershman Hall is the largest on campus with a seating capacity of 850. Also in Gershman Hall is a black box theater used for student-run productions. The university's Arts Bank Theater seats 230, and the Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater is located in the same building. The university also utilizes the adjacent Drake Theater, primarily for dance productions. The Caplan Center for the Performing Arts, located on the 16 & 17th floor of Terra Hall – which opened in 2007, houses two theaters. Its black box theater seats 100 and a recital hall seats 250.

Polyphone Festival[edit]

Polyphone is a festival in its fifth year that features developing and emerging musicals at the University of Arts in Philadelphia.[4] Composers and lyricists are invited to campus to try new things and experiment with students. Run by artistic director César Alvarez, the festival looks to push on the question "What is a musical?"[5] Most shows take the form of a staged concert. Alvarez said of the event, "Watching eight hours of newly born musicals is a totally overwhelming experience, but it puts us into a sublime state of openness and reflection about our craft and our purpose".[6]

Residence halls[edit]

The university has four on-campus residence halls located in the heart of Center City. Each dorm contains beds, dressers, desks, and chairs. They also contain a bathroom and mini kitchen with a mini fridge and cabinets. The halls include Furness, Pine, Spruce, and Juniper (reserved mainly for upperclassmen).

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  2. ^ Accreditation.
  3. ^ Sixty-second Annual Report of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the Year Ended May 31, 1938, with the List of Members, 1938
  4. ^ A.D. Amorosi, "The Polyphone Festival is back for a third year at UArts", Broad Street Review, March 26, 2017
  5. ^ "Polyphone Festival Returns For Third Year – University of the Arts". Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  6. ^ "Polyphone 2018 – The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts". Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  7. ^ Adam Blackstone
  8. ^ "Paul Felder". UFC. July 16, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  9. ^ "Sidney Goodman Estate – The official website of the Sidney Goodman Estate". Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  10. ^ Roberts, Sam (May 29, 2016). "Frank Modell, Longtime New Yorker Cartoonist, Dies at 98". Retrieved March 3, 2018 – via
  11. ^ "Archives -". Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  12. ^ "William Daley". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved February 11, 2021.

External links[edit]