Our History

Arts Corps was founded in 2000 as a strategy to bring out-of-school arts and creative engagement to low income communities, in recognition of the decline of arts education and the under engagement of youth in out-of-school settings. Founded by Lisa Fitzhugh, Arts Corps started with eight teaching artist including founding members Tina LaPadula and Lauren Atkinson. Operating from Lisa’s house, this small team developed relationships with future program partners, recruited teaching artist and shaped our educational philosophy.

The program began with six program partner sites and classes in theater, visual arts, dance and music. Soon program offerings expanded to include in-school residencies, workshops, professional development for teaching artists and trainings for school teachers.

Arts Corps’ innovative approach in the field of arts education has garnered widespread recognition. Some of these include Seattle’s inaugural award for Excellence in Arts Education, as well as recognition from the National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning, and Harvard’s Project Zero. In addition, Arts Corps has consulted and participated in major initiatives such as The Seattle Arts Education Consortium, The Center for Music National Service’s pilot of MusicianCorps and the Weill Music Institute of Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections National Network.

Today, Arts Corps is a leading nonprofit arts education organization as well as a movement of youth and adult artists committed to justice, collaboration and inspiration. Led by executive director Elizabeth Whitford, the staff and teaching artists continue to grow in number, serving over 2,000 students grades K-12 in over 30 partner sites.

To read more on our history, click on the following links:

“Arts Corps finds willing recruits in needy schools: Non-profit lets in the light of the arts” Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Creativity to their Art’s Content”
 The Seattle Times

“Arts Corps: A Phenomenal Success Story”
 Real Change

For more information on Arts Corps founder Lisa Fitzhugh and her work with her new company Creative Ground, click on the following links:

“A Tribute to the Vision of Lisa Fitzhugh.” a Brian Quist production

“Lisa Fitzhugh: The Art of Survival” 
Seattle Magazine