Henry Street Settlement was founded in 1893 to provide health and human services to immigrant populations on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Founder Lillian Wald believed that the cultivation of aesthetic and cultural sensibilities was integral to individual and community well-being.
The Abrons Arts Center, which opened in 1975 at 466 Grand Street, presents exhibitions in all media by artists-in-residence, and local and international contemporary artists. Adjacent is its landmarked 300-seat Neighborhood Playhouse, housing Henry Street’s visual and performing arts programming alongside its community-based arts training.
Performances at the Playhouse have included downtown dance choreographers, opera companies, jazz musicians, cabaret artists, indie rockers, performance artists and more. The performing arts program inherits the century-long legacy of the Neighborhood Playhouse, where some of the most adventurous artists have trained, taught or performed, including Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Dizzy Gillespie, Martha Graham, Philip Glass, Alicia Keyes, Alwin Nikolais, Lou Reed, Denzel Washington and Orson Welles.
Current instructional offerings include instrumental music, ballet, painting, drawing and acting.
Abrons operates a four-week Summer Arts Camp, which includes art classes in all disciplines plus recreation. The Summer Architecture Camp teaches students sketching, model-making and exploring the architecture of New York City. Call for information.
Arts-In-Education Programs: Art skills are taught and integrated with school curricula in language arts, social studies, math and science and also include: folk artists-in-the-classrooms; book arts; early childhood experiences in the visual arts; creative dramatics; movement; music; portfolio workshops for special art high schools; and auditorium performances.
Programs for Teachers
Professional development programs are offered to teachers in a variety of art forms, curriculum integration and conflict resolution through drama. Abrons also provides storytelling-based literacy workshops for parents.