In 2004, the Dillon Foundation purchased the Woodlawn Arts Academy building with the vision of it being an arts center. During renovations to the current facility, classes were offered at the Dillon Foundation on West LeFevre Road in Sterling.
Woodlawn Arts Academy began operation at its current facility in 2006. Offering classes in visual, performance, theatre and literary arts, 41 registrations were taken. By 2011, that number had grown to more than 2,400! Today, we offer instructions in all disciplines of the arts: visual, music, dance, theatre, woodworking and culinary, along with education programs which encompass our Preschool program as well as STEM and literary arts programming.
Since its inception, Woodlawn Arts Academy had been a program of the Sterling-Rock Falls YMCA. Through the Y’s partnership, we saw success and growth that helped us surpass goals and expectations. In 2011, with gratitude to the YMCA for their support, guidance and leadership, Woodlawn became its own, standalone entity. We are a nonprofit 501(c)3 educational organization that is proud to be an agency supported by the United Way organizations of both Whiteside and Lee counties.
The Academy continues to grow. Each season, we are offering more opportunities for our students at all ages and skill levels. In 2012, we received the Public and Community Service Award from the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education, for our dedication to furthering artistic opportunities in the Sauk Valley. From 2016-2020, the Academy has received grants from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. In 2020, Woodlawn received a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.