University City: Local Artists Teach Classes for Residents

Program Coordinator Lillian Pontius-Goldblatt stands on University City Arts League's front porch
Lillian Pontius-Goldblatt stood on University City Arts League's front porch.

University City Arts League is the unofficial community center of West University City.

The league is a nonprofit organization that has art classes for children and adults. Its after-school arts programs have been the most popular, with roughly 80 percent of its students coming from Penn Alexander School, which is located right across the street.

The University City Arts League was created in 1965 by a group of local artists who gathered to share their interests through lectures about arts and politics. Over time, the league became more centered on teaching and today has over 250 students a week come to learn everything from printmaking, dance to digital design.

Program coordinator Lillian Pontius-Goldblatt explained. “A lot of kids don’t have access to art in school, and most [Philadelphia] schools don’t even have art programs. Penn Alexander only has a part time art teacher, and they’re lucky to have one at all.”

Pottery has been the most popular class so far and is taught every day of the week. The University City Arts League is funded mainly through tuition it charges for the classes, but has also accepted grants from foundations.

Most of the league’s staff are local independent artists that teach for supplemental income. Pontius-Goldblatt said the league has been fortunate to have many artists living close by.

“This neighborhood is particularly conducive to art-making because it is affordable and as a result a lot of artists live here.”

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