Teaching Artists sing and ASL interpret songs from past Art of Me performances. Photo by Jason Bucklin.

Upstream Arts is the only arts organization in the Twin Cities
– and one of only a handful nationally –
to utilize the arts to develop social & communication skills
for people with disabilities at every stage of life.

Our programming integrates individuals with cognitive, developmental, emotional, behavioral, and physical disabilities into multidisciplinary arts residencies designed to develop skills vital to success in school, work, and life.  Our team of local professional artists teaches fundamental skills in a variety of art forms — including acting, music, poetry, visual artist, and dance — through fun activities that nurture self-expression, conversation, and group participation.  Participants usually meet for 1-2 hours weekly over a designated period of time, often in a setting where they already receive services.



A typical Upstream Arts program is an arts residency in one of the following core focus areas. All of our residency program offerings are available for individuals of all abilities, and several are available for all age groups. We work with every partner to customize the structure and length of residencies according to the partner’s unique interests and goals. To explore possibilities, please contact Julie Guidry, Upstream Arts Executive Director, at (612) 331-4584 or [email protected].

NEW! studio ACCESS   

Out of care for our community – our participants, teaching artists, staff, and their families – we are currently not running in-person programming.

We invite you to join us online through studio ACCESS, where we continue to practice creativity via short arts-learning videos and interactive group live stream classes. 

Learn more HERE. 


Upstream Arts Teaching Artist and ParticipantThe Art of Play

Explores creative play between babies of all abilities and their caregivers.
Learn more here.

Upstream Arts Teaching Artists and Participants at Linwood MonroeThe Art of Social Skills

Fosters vital social and emotional skills through multiple art forms.
Learn more here.

Upstream Arts Teaching Artists and Participants performing The Art of MeThe Art of Me

Explores self-expression and teamwork by developing a public arts event.
Learn more here.

Upstream Arts Teaching Artist and ParticipantThe Art of Relationships

Uses multiple art forms to explore sexual health, self-advocacy, and positive relationships.
Learn more here.

Upstream Arts Teaching Artist and ParticipantThe Art of Working

Cultivates soft skills essential to employment through multiple artistic disciplines.
Learn more here.

Participant painting in Upstream Arts' Art of Retirement classThe Art of Retirement

This program is specifically designed for aging adults with disabilities.
Learn more here.

Upstream Arts Teaching Artists and ParticipantsThe Art of Access – Training

Examines how to “universally design” spaces and events for people of all abilities.
Learn more here.

Upstream Arts Teaching Artist and ParticipantThe Art of Voice and Choice

Uses multiple art forms to foster self-advocacy and Person Centered Thinking with individuals with disabilities and support staff.  Learn more here.


Our residencies are designed to provide a lifetime of arts learning experiences for individuals with disabilities, from birth to retirement and beyond. We also regularly offer community programs and trainings open to people of all abilities, including artists, educators, program staff, administrators, producers, and the general public.

Upstream Arts Participant and Teaching ArtistSchool Programs

We partner with school districts to offer programming for students receiving Special Education services, from birth to age 21.

Upstream Arts participants at Valley Friendship ClubCommunity Programs

We use the arts to support community services; produce performances and exhibitions; and join cross-sector dialogues.

Upstream Arts participants at Opportunity PartnersAdult Programs

We partner with Adult Day Programs and other service providers to offer programming for adults with disabilities ages 21 to 75+.

Upstream Arts Teaching ArtistsTraining and Professional Development Programs

We provide professional development opportunities for artists, organizations, educators, and cross-sector leaders.

 Curious about bringing Upstream Arts to your school or organization?

Contact us at [email protected] to set up a 1 hour FREEBIE!

This session – absolutely free of charge – can offer insight into how we work to support individuals with a range of cognitive, developmental, emotional, behavioral, and physical disabilities.