An early Upstream Arts class at Lake Harriet

​How many Upstream Arts staff members can you spot in this photo from 2007?


As many of you know, here at Upstream Arts, we’re celebrating our 10th Anniversary as a nonprofit working at the intersection of the arts, disability, and learning! In the 10 days leading up to Give to the Max Day (November 12), we’re sharing 10 fun facts about our work and our history – which double as 10 great reasons to Give to the Max, toward our big anniversary goal of $100,000 by June 30. Enjoy!

Fun Fact #2: In Our Early Years, It Was “All Hands On Deck”

Back in 2006-07, our first year of operations, we served 97 individuals, starting with Caleb’s middle school Special Education classroom. During those early years, all of our staff members taught or otherwise participated in almost all of our programs!

We started with only one staff member (Executive Director Julie Guidry), then soon expanded to three (Artistic Director Matt Guidry and Associate Director Bree Sieplinga) – making the same trio that comprises our Leadership Team today. Julie and Matt would teach programs, with Bree supporting in the circle. Gradually over that year, as we developed our team-teaching model and received increasing numbers of requests for programs, we recruited more artists to help with teaching and curriculum development – several of whom (Matt Sciple, Norah Long, Charles Fraser) still work with us today.

In addition to our full-time leadership team, we now have several part-time administrative staff and a roster of nearly 30 Teaching Artists. Needless to say, we don’t all attend every program anymore! However, we do all still make a point to regularly get out and watch programs that our colleagues are teaching, in the process reconnecting with the amazing individuals that we serve and why we do this work.


An early Upstream Arts class

An early Upstream Arts class

An early Upstream Arts class

Images from early Upstream Arts programs, 2006-2008

Move upstream with Upstream Arts by making a special 10th Anniversary gift on Give to the Max Day! We’re looking for commitments from 10 supporters every day between now and November 12, with the goal of having 100 Give to the Max supporters giving $10 or more and moving us closer to our $100,000 anniversary stretch goal. Can you be 1 of 10 today? It takes only a few minutes to schedule a gift right now at Thanks so much in advance for your belief and support!