The boards of trustees of the University of the Arts and the Philadelphia Art Alliance have announced that the two century-old institutions will merge. The agreement was finalized with a unanimous vote on August 28.
The Art Alliance will be incorporated into the University of the Arts, which will be renamed the Philadelphia Art Alliance at the University of the Arts. University of the Arts president and CEO David Yager will head the rebranded institution.
“We are thrilled that the Art Alliance will continue to be an active part of the future of Philadelphia’s cultural life as a result of this merger with the University of the Arts,” said Carole Shanis, chairperson and president emerita of the Art Alliance. “The Art Alliance has been a multi-disciplinary art center, guided by artists, since it was founded in 1915. While over the last ten years our focus has been on contemporary craft and design, we welcome the new resources and broader perspective that will come with this partnership.”
The Philadelphia Art Alliance, the oldest multidisciplinary arts center in the United States for visual, literary, and performing arts, was established by philanthropist Christine Wetherill Stevenson in 1915 with the goal of uniting various disciplines by presenting music, theater, painting, and sculpture in a single venue. In 1926, it moved from its temporary quarters on Walnut Street into Stevenson’s family home on Rittenhouse Square. The University of the Arts, originally known as the Philadelphia College of Art, was founded in 1876 by Philadelphia civic leaders in response to the growing interest in art and design stirred by the country’s Centennial Exposition, and as a means to develop world-class artisans and designers in post–Industrial Revolution America.
While the state review process for mergers of nonprofit organizations began on Tuesday, September 4, it is expected to take several months before the move is approved. After the state green-lights the merger, the University of the Arts will work on making several improvements to its facilities.