In 1991, a group of concerned citizens under the direction of Rev. G. Carswell Hughs founded the Community School of the Arts. This group of movers and shakers saw there was a gap in art and music education offered by public schools in Knox and the surrounding counties.
In 1992, the school was incorporated as a separate nonprofit entity and became the first organization of its kind in Tennessee to offer free, quality arts instruction to children and families who couldn’t afford them otherwise.
Our after-school program was also created to provide a safe and nurturing environment where kids had an opportunity to build relationships with role models and mentors while having experiences that were positive and confidence building.
Important partnerships with the City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department, the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts (now National Guild for Community Arts Education), and the Knoxville Community Development Corporation (KCDC) paved the way for us to open our doors for full operation on September 15, 1992.
Our school has been under the direction of Executive Director Jennifer Willard since its inception.
The first class at CSA was made up of 22 children aged 7-12. Within a decade, 17 of those students had graduated from the program as high school seniors.
Community School of the Arts was fully accredited just two years after it was formed. This makes us one of only three institutions in the state who can boast this feat were the Cadek Conservatory at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the Rhodes School of Music at Rhodes College in Memphis.