Upstream Arts

A nonprofit organization

Group portrait of three UA Teaching Artists. Pedro, a long-haired, bearded, and nonbinary person; Nora, a Latine woman with long curly hair, and Chavonn a black femme with black curly hair, all stand in a row. Pedro and Nora are smiling big, Chavonn has their head up in laughter.We're changing mindsets about ability and disability.

At Upstream Arts, we believe there is no separation between art and advocacy, that by creating together we are expanding culture to be more accessible to everyone across the disability-ability spectrum and all its intersections. 

Our arts-based classes, taught by teams of professional artists, integrate theatre, music, poetry, dance, painting into a deeply human practice that creates meaningful connections, foregrounds choice and consent, expands self-expression, and strengthens self-advocacy and healthy relationships for people of all ages and abilities. We are proud that each year our programming reaches 3500 individuals through 100+ partnerships with schools, adult day programs, and community organizations in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and beyond. 

Our disability community remains significantly impacted by the continued realities of COVID. Isolation, instability in housing, vocation, community living - all remain tenuous. Each time we have the chance to connect, we do not squander the moment. A gentle hello, a shared breath, a welcomed wiggle, a painted arc, a rhyming poem - all products of our work in classrooms and day programs, all small moments of joy. These vital moments of connection consistently offer a counterpoint to the Ableism that our disability community experiences every day and create new avenues for self-advocacy and self-determination in the lives of our participants.

Upstream Arts exists to disrupt the lack of imagination, planning and education we continue to see for our disability community. At the intersection of art, disability, and learning we not only acknowledge these human experiences but create intentional arts experiences in our classes that ensure people with disabilities have a place to practice, feel, create, imagine and dream for themselves. As we continue to grow in community and connection, we invite you to invest in our work, invest in your community, and invest in what is possible.

Because we are all connected.

With gratitude for all you do,

All of us at Upstream Arts

Upstream Arts uses the power of the creative arts to activate and amplify the voice and choice of individuals with disabilities.


We will change mindsets about ability and disability and promote more connected and engaged communities by increasing intentional opportunities for shared creative experiences.


Upstream Arts was founded in 2006 by parents that witnessed first-hand the positive impact of the arts education on their son, Caleb. Caleb, who is non-verbal, was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, which affects his physical and cognitive development. Caleb’s father, a professional theatre artist and educator in the Twin Cities, exposed Caleb to theatre and dance at a young age. Caleb, who previously had few tools to communicate, began to use the physical movements, body language, and facial expressions he learned through the arts to communicate and engage with those around him. Out of this spirit and determination, Upstream Arts was born.

Learn more about us and see what we're up to at

Organization Data


Organization name

Upstream Arts

Tax id (EIN)



Arts & Culture


3501 Chicago Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55407



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