Our Story

Our Mission

Our History

Board of Directors

Video about the Yocum Institute. Click here

Our Story

The Institute of the Arts celebrated 75 years of service to the community with a new name and a new look. As of July 4, 2009, the Institute is “The Yocum Institute for Arts Education.” The name change honors long-time donor, board member and community philanthropist, James H. Yocum, whose philanthropic focus is education. The name further defines the Institute’s core mission of arts education and the future direction of “Making the Arts Make a Difference”.

Today, quality instruction and access to the arts remain major priorities with innovative programs and expanding partnerships helping to widen the impact and benefits of the arts in our community. Our vision of “Making the Arts Make a Difference” has increased the number of people served through private instruction, on site classes, exhibits, productions, integrated arts summer camps and outreach programs from 8,000 in 2008 and 2009 to over 14,000 in 2010.

The Institute offers a preschool and kindergarten that integrates the arts into experiential learning, community wide off-site arts programs, workshops with renowned teaching artists, performances and onsite-ongoing classes in the Visual Arts, Dance, Music and Theater including; Painting, Drawing, Mixed Media; Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Salsa, Hip Hop, Voice, Jazz Composition, String, Percussive, Brass and Wind Instruments, Acting, Scene Study, Improvisation, Sketch Comedy and much more.

Use the logo links on our homepage to explore and feel free to call us at (610) 376-1576 with any questions you have about our programs.

Yocum Institute for Arts Education’s Mission Statement:

The Yocum Institute for Arts Education’s mission is to connect and enrich our community through arts education, creative performance and innovative programs.

Our History

Established in 1934 by Chester Wittell as the Wyomissing Institute of Fine Arts, the Institute opened its doors with 3 music students. Under Lila Lerch, the first managing director, the Institute grew to over 300 students and expanded its offerings to include music, dance, theatre and the visual arts instruction. An arts-based preschool and kindergarten were added and the Institute became licensed by the state.

Over the years, the Institute has forged partnerships with schools and other non-profit organizations to increase access to the arts for both arts and non-arts outcomes. In 2005 in response to a challenge grant, it launched the “Learning Through the Arts” campaign. Funds from the campaign were used to research and develop Primary Stages the Institute’s signature Theatre program for children’s productions and integrated arts education

Primary Stages newest venture is a partnership with Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis formed in January 2008 when the Institute became one of 13 National sites to offer Neighborhood Bridges. Neighborhood Bridges is a program integrated into the classroom curriculum that builds critical literacy through the theatre arts.

Institute educational programs touch the lives of thousands of people each year through onsite instruction and extensive outreach programs with libraries, public and private schools, retirement communities and other not for profit organizations.

The Institute is also home to the Yocum Gallery that serves as a venue for exhibits and performances, the Berks Art Alliance and “Art Goes to School”.

2015-2016 Board of Directors

Mickey Baines
Nicholas Bentley
Meridyth Cutler, AIA
Susan Denaro, Esq.
Kevin Godfrey, Ph.D
Chris Heslop
Kristin Kramer
Heather Lineaweaver
Chris Luppold, CPA, MBA
O. Christopher Miller
Arlene Otis, Ed.D
Jenny Pakradooni
Margaret K. Schumo (Honorary)
Rene’ Shewalter
Andrea-Janae Sholtz, Ph.D
Katie Smaglinski
Lisa Tiger
William Wellock
James H. Yocum

Susan Rohn, Executive Director