ArtPlay is One of Birmingham’s Best Kept Secrets, but We Hope to Change That!

Tucked away in a historic Victorian style house on 19th Street South, you will find what is both an outlet and an incubator for creativity. If at first you doubt how an unassuming house can facilitate dozens of fine arts classes throughout the year, just follow the yellow brick road and find out for yourself. No, seriously. There’s an actual yellow brick road in the backyard!
Yellow Brick Road at ArtPlay Birmingham
ArtPlay is run by UAB’s Alys Stephens Center and plays host to classes that focus on art, dance, music, theatre, and more. Amber and I had the pleasure of attending a Junior Patrons event recently and were amazed at how much goes on in this beautiful house! Even the event we attended hosted a quick lesson in Latin Dance in the main foyer. How did we not know about this place?! Sure, we were aware that it existed as a venue, but how could we not know about their extensive programing that’s both fun and educational?!
Latin Dance Lesson at ArtPlay Alys Stephens Center Junior Patron Event
Reception inside ArtPlay Birmingham
Almost immediately we began to brainstorm about how we could share the ArtPlay story on the blog. I also may have been thinking how, with its classic Victorian look and decor, ArtPlay would be a killer location for an epic Halloween party, but that’s a thought for another day. As we were brainstorming we met Lili Anderson, the Sr. Director of Development. Lili must have seen our wide-eyed and dumbfounded expressions, because she offered to give us a detailed tour of the house. We were more than happy to accept!
Foyer with Stained Glass in ArtPlay Birmingham
We expected the tour to be a quick five minute walk through. How big could this house be, right? Fifteen minutes later, Lili had taken us on a winding journey through a series of interconnected hallways, staircases, and rooms that in no way seemed like they should all be able to fit inside the house we saw from the road. Our favorite rooms were the studios located on the top floor that once served as an attic. The contemporary designs of the new berber carpet stood out in stark contrast to the original wood of the vaulted ceilings.
Staircase in ArtPlay Birmingham
One of the Many Studio Rooms at ArtPlay Birmingham
Of all the rooms we saw, the best was also the smallest. Tucked away in the house’s turret is a tiny room with a keyboard and two chairs. The windows, like so many others in ArtPlay, have old glass, wavy from years of gravity’s pull, that offer a fantastic view of Birmingham’s Southside. There’s something fun about looking out the window of a Victorian home and seeing the top of Quinlan Castle!
ArtPlay Studio Room in the Top of the Turret
The entire time we were walking around, Lili talked about numerous classes that are offered to the public. The classes cater to students from “2-92” and older. For the younger crowd there are classes like Me & You & Paint & Glue. I’m not going to lie, I’d love to take a finger painting class! My artwork looks like that of a toddler anyway. They have Ballet, Hip-hop, and Shakespeare classes for Elementary and Middle School kids. For the High School & Adult crowd, ArtPlay offers classes in Latin Social Dance, Knitting, Sketch Comedy, Calligraphy & Lettering, and more!
Craft Room in ArtPlay Birmingham
This is just a small sample of all the classes that are offered throughout the year. For the full list you can click HERE. Some of them are kicking off soon, so be sure to get registered. If you are an adult we recommend that you find two or more friends who want to take the class with you. The classes make for great group activities! The Latin Dance Classes are great for couples looking for something more exciting than dinner and a movie. Won’t your friends be impressed when you bust out some fancy moves at the next wedding or event you attend?!
Dance, Ballet, and Theatre Room inside ArtPlay Birmingham
For years (YEARS!) Amber has talked about how much she always wanted to learn calligraphy. Now, she’s beyond ecstatic to be able to take the Calligraphy and Lettering class at ArtPlay! This particular class meets once a week for 2 hours over the course of 10 weeks! That’s 20 hours of calligraphy training! She hopes to be proficient enough to be able to address wedding invites. (That’s a good way to make some extra cash, btw.)

It’s great that ArtPlay can help Amber realize her life long desire to learn calligraphy. While this is just one example, I’m sure that as you’re reading this you are thinking to yourself, “I’ve always wanted to learn Improv!,” or “This year my husband and I said we’d take a dance class together.” Maybe you’ve always wanted to know how to mix beats on a soundboard! Why put off learning these skills any longer? To quote Robin Williams in my favorite movie, “Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."
-Russell H.
List of ArtPlay Classes for 2017
You can check out out and enroll in these classes HERE. Be sure to follow all that Alys Stephens has going on, including at ArtPlay, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
ArtPlay is located at 1006 19th St S, Birmingham, AL 35205.