InnOVATION Arts Academy is the realization of a vision Mary Joy Nelson has had since she was a student studying Opera at the University of Kentucky. Ms. Nelson founded the Broadway Bound summer program for children in 2007 while at UK and served as the first Program Director of the Academy for Creative Excellence from 2007 until 2016.

In 2016, Ms. Nelson and Sadhna True teamed up to start InnOVATION Arts Academy. InnOVATION Arts fulfils Ms. Nelson’s vision of engaging children in the arts from the time they begin to walk and talk through the high school years when the students are seeking college opportunities and careers in the arts. Ms. Nelson believes that by capturing a child’s imagination at a young age, the child will always have a strong connection to the arts, whether as an artist or patron.

InnOVATION Arts began offering classes in August 2016, and employs professional teaching artists and other arts professionals to provide performing arts training, work on productions, conduct workshops, and carry out the mission of InnOVATION Arts. Classes offered include: musical theatre training at three different levels; advanced acting; dance classes for beginners through advanced students in a variety of disciplines, including ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap and hip hop; vocal training; and workshops in audition skills. In January 2017, InnOVATION Arts added classes for preschool students and currently serves students who are 3-18 years old.

InnOVATION Arts is an independent non-profit corporation that received 501(c)(3) approval in November 2016. The corporation has an all-volunteer Board of Directors, with Ms. True serving as Chair. Ms. Nelson is the Executive Director, and Ms. True is an attorney and handles the legal, financial and other business operations for the organization.


InnOVATION Arts Academy nurtures the creative spirit in children by

o   Providing high quality performing arts training;

o   Encouraging the development of individual expression, leadership capacity, teamwork, and dynamic communication skills;

o   Supporting and developing arts professionals; and

o   Showcasing the arts in the community.


Sadhna G. True, Chair
Amanda Black
Laura C. Carter
Elizabeth (Tricia) Hensley
Melissa Rucker
Megan Winfield


Terena Wallingford