When budget cuts eliminated arts instruction from Los Angeles public schools in the late 1970s, it was up to local communities to fill the gap. Skid Row area schools and students, already struggling, were at a clear disadvantage—until artist and educator Bob Bates was inspired by a vision to "get an art space for kids" to serve this population. He and Irwin Jaeger, a businessman, teamed up to form Inner-City Arts in 1989. Knowing the benefits of the arts in the lives of all children, Bob and Irv were determined to bring the benefits of a safe, creative environment to children in downtown neighborhoods, who would otherwise miss out.

A groundbreaking—and enduring—partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District brought students from 9th Street Elementary School to Inner-City Arts' first studio space on Olympic Boulevard. In its inaugural year, Inner-City Arts served a total of 60 elementary school students.

With evidence mounting that Inner-City Arts' unique approach to arts education supported student gains in literacy and overall achievement, principals and teachers from other schools soon signed on. Inner-City Arts forged collaborations with other educators and the academic community to develop new programs targeting specific student needs. Programs were created to support classroom teachers, bringing the lessons of the studio to other academic disciplines.

To date, Inner-City Arts has served over 200,000 students and 10,000 teachers in the Los Angeles area.

For over 25 years, the support of key partners and funders has enabled Inner-City Arts to expand its programs and establish a permanent home.


Inner-City Arts receives the first of several multi-year Title VII grants from the U.S. Department of Education supporting student achievement and the development of teacher training programs.

A gift from The Mark Taper Foundation enables the purchase of a 8,000-square-foot auto body shop at the corner of Kohler and 7th Street, establishing a permanent home for Inner-City Arts.


Inner-City Arts partners with California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), adding animation to the Inner-City Arts core curriculum and an intensive weekend program in animation for high school students.

Inner-City Arts begins a collaboration with researchers at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies to evaluate the effectiveness of its programs.


Inner-City Arts receives its third U.S. Department of Education Title VII grant, Project ALL (Arts for Language and Learning), to develop new programs targeting the needs of English Language Learners.


Researchers at UCLA confirm the effectiveness of Inner-City Arts programs for high-poverty children.

$1 million grant from The Annenberg Foundation establishes the Inner-City Arts - Annenberg Professional Development Program.

Inner-City Arts receives the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities Coming Up Taller Award.


$1.24 million grant from the State of California supports Inner-City Arts' campus expansion project.

Project ALL evaluations confirm the impact of Inner-City Arts programs on student achievement.

Professional development programs receive accreditation from Los Angeles Unified School District.


Inner-City Arts Artistic Director and Co-Founder Bob Bates receives $100,000 Use Your Life Award from Oprah's Angel Network, in support of middle school programs.


Inner-City Arts record of success and innovation is featured as a case study by Harvard University's prestigious Bruner Loeb Forum.


With the support of a U.S. Department of Education Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant, Inner-City Arts staff develops and implements a nationally recognized program for low-performing middle school students, Arts in the Middle (AIM).


The Inner-City Arts Professional Development Program Teachers Institute collaborates with UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies Center X Teacher Education Program to develop and provide arts training for new teachers committed to working in high-poverty schools.

Board members Monica and Philip Rosenthal contribute $2 million toward building The Rosenthal Theater.


A grant from DreamWorks Animation SKG establishes the DreamWorks Animation Academy at Inner-City Arts.


The Inner-City Arts Professional Development Program Teachers Institute becomes two accredited UCLA courses in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.


$1 million gift from the Glorya Kaufman Dance Foundation establishes the Glorya Kaufman Dance Academy at Inner-City Arts.

Inner-City Arts receives the prestigious Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.

Inner-City Arts celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Inner-City Arts launches the High School Visual and Performing Arts Institutes programs, serving over 100 students its first year.


The Duke and Duchess of York, Prince William and  Kate Middleton, visit the Inner-City Arts campus to promote arts education and publicly support Inner-City Arts’ efforts.


Inner-City Arts celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The Disney Foundation partners with Inner-City Arts to expand the Creativity Lab with a grant of $1 million dollars.

“I heard this voice say, 'Get an art space for kids'. And when I finally said 'yes' to that...all of these people came, and then they helped and we grew this incredible school called Inner-City Arts. Our work is to help these kids, to turn them onto themselves so that they can recognize that they have something unique to do here.”