70 years of history at Allens Lane Arts Center

by Vita Litvak, Executive Director
Posted 1/3/24

In 2023, Allens Lane celebrated the center’s 70th anniversary with renewed energy, passion and commitment to the founders’ vision.

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70 years of history at Allens Lane Arts Center


In 1953, the Allens Lane Art Center was founded by a group of Mt. Airy neighbors who believed that art played an instrumental role in bringing diverse communities together. As part of a larger grass-roots movement to create a welcoming and integrated community, Allens Lane’s founders created a space where creativity thrived through a variety of offerings, including theater, visual arts, dance, music and a choir.

In 2023, Allens Lane celebrated the center’s 70th anniversary with renewed energy, passion and commitment to the founders’ vision. We expanded visual art classes, engaging new teaching artists locally and from across the city. Summer Art Camp continued to thrive and expose young artists to diverse media and genres in both performing and visual arts. Ten young artists from Stenton Family Manor, a housing emergency shelter in Mt. Airy, joined the summer art camp for eight weeks of free programming while a teaching artist also visited Stenton twice a week, bringing hands-on art making activities to the children there. 

In September, Allens Lane partnered with West Mt. Airy Neighbors to organize a free community festival that highlighted and celebrated the rich arts and culture scene of Northwest Philly. Nearly 1,000 neighbors and visitors attended the event. Next year’s festival is already in the works!

To give the community fuller access to its unique historic theater space, Allens Lane has launched a new and expanded performing arts series called Live! At The Lane. The series will provide local and emerging artists opportunities to perform and collaborate, expose new audiences to their talents and create partnerships with other local arts organizations and theater ensembles. 

Upcoming events include an evening of drum-infused R&B and spoken word by the Karen Smith Experience on Jan. 13; a Readers Theater performance of a new play, Black Roses in the Garden, by Camille James on Feb. 3; and a Jazzintine Evening in celebration of Valentine’s Day on Feb. 17. In April, in collaboration with Blackburn Theatrical Productions, Allens Lane will host the world premiere of Trouble with Harry, directed by Noel Hanley. 

For parents interested in Summer Camp, the 2024 camp runs eight weeks from June 17 to Aug. 11. Registration begins on Jan. 29, and spots fill up quickly. Visit allenslane.org for more information.

Reflecting on the past year and the year ahead, Allens Lane Art Center Executive Director Vita Litvak expressed “gratitude to our students, volunteers, teachers, performance artists, staff, board members, supporters, and local businesses for an amazing 70th year.”

“Thank you for the outpouring of support and your commitment to the visionary and important mission of the center, of bringing our diverse community together through the arts,” she continued. “Tapping into the power of the arts and creativity is more important than ever, and can empower, heal, and unite our communities.”