Church Street School for Music and Art is the only nonprofit community school for the arts in lower Manhattan, committed to providing high-quality art and music programs for diverse students of all ages, abilities, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and socioeconomic backgrounds.  We believe in the transformative and therapeutic power of the arts and are dedicated to providing accessibility to the arts for all.

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the story of church street school

CSSMA was founded in 1990, in a small loft at 311 Church Street, (right around the corner from our current home on 41 White Street), by Lauri Bailey and Dr. Lisa Ecklund-Flores. Lauri & Lisa brought deep knowledge of education, musicianship, child-development and music therapy to their venture. The school was founded on the deep belief in the transformative power of the arts.


Their goal was to offer a safe space for students of ALL ages, no matter their background or abilities, to experience high quality arts programming that focused on individual students’ hands-on experience. 

With great community response, the student body, teaching faculty and program offerings grew and grew over the years, requiring a move, an expansion and eventually a relocation to our current 41 White St. location. 

Over the past 30 years, CSSMA has endured many difficult times, from 9/11 to the 2008 economic crash, and beyond. Today the world is experiencing unparalleled challenges and we need to be here for each other.  As with 9/11, CSSMA was determined to stay open and available to all who benefit from our services. We pivoted to online learning, developed a new virtual hub to gather and exchange and now safely provide in-person learning to those who are looking for it. 

CSSMA remains the only not-for-profit community school for the arts in Lower Manhattan. Over the years nearly 20,000 students have come through our doors. With all of the extreme complexities life is throwing our way, it is of the utmost importance that resources for self expression and development through the arts are preserved and strengthened. Thank you for being a part of our CSSMA Community that continues to grow! 

Make More Music ! Make More Art!

Peter Knoll and students, outreach in Brownsville Brooklyn, 2008

Visual Art with Teaching Artist Dan Fine at 74 Warren Street

20th anniversary Block Party, May 2010

Peter Knoll and students, outreach in Brownsville Brooklyn, 2008


Pumpkin painting, 2018

The Happening, 2019

72 program, 2020

Pumpkin painting, 2018






“Students who have had the opportunity to grow and thrive in an environment that supports curiosity, discovery, and creative expression have more self-confidence. They are more self-aware. This may be the most important gift we can give them in this complex and ever changing world.”

      —Dr. Lisa Ecklund-Flores, CSSMA Founder & Director


Take a look at our home site to learn about all of our different music and art programs available for students of ALL ages and abilities. Virtual and SAFE in-person options!

To obtain more information about our programs, please visit www.churchstreetschool.org