Academy of the Arts
A new arts-focused school and center for the community will be coming to Naperville in the next few years.
“The biggest thing that was important for us was to find a community that’s very arts focused and Naperville having Century Walk and all these other very important arts institutions really stuck out for us,” said Dylan Ladd, co-founder of Academy of the Arts.
The first of its kind in the suburbs, Academy of the Arts is a non-profit that will be providing arts education to students in sixth through twelfth grade.
“The ultimate goal is to provide a place for students to really get that high level arts instruction, arts curriculum, connections to the professional world, understanding of the business world in the arts,” said Ladd. “But all of that without sacrificing their academic education and making sure that they have very strong academics too so that way when they leave they’re prepared to either be at the top of their game in the arts world or any other professional setting.”
The plan for the full academics and arts school is to have 50 traditional classrooms, aiming for smaller class sizes of around 15 students per class. They hope to eventually provide K-12 education.
The school will also have a black box theater, 1,200-seat auditorium, several dance studios, music classrooms, and recital halls.
“[We’re] also looking at some of the more innovative arts areas that aren’t focused in a traditional school setting,” said Ladd. “So we’re looking at things like having a TV studio within there so the students can really get into the media production side of things, a recording studio. And then a full set shop, costume shop.”
As work begins to build a curriculum, the school has created an artistic advisory board to help give them feedback. Those on the board include professional artists like Alex Lacamoire who was the orchestrator and music director for Hamilton and In the Heights, as well as 80’s artist Taylor Dayne.
Arts Center for the Community
The project also includes building an arts center for the community.
“The arts center is going to be really great because that’s one thing that the cultural scene of Naperville is missing right now is having this professional theater,” said Ladd. “And so we’re really excited to be able to create that space for the community.”
The plan is to bring professional musicians, professional theater groups, and touring acts to the area. Community organizations in Naperville will also be able to use the theater space.
A specific site for the around 200,000 square-foot building has not been chosen yet.
Ladd said they are looking at the average tuition cost of surrounding private schools to set a price. Financial aid to support students “from all financial backgrounds” is also in their budget.
The plan is for Academy of the Arts to open in August 2025.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
photo courtesy: Dylan Ladd
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