ICA Who We Are - Founders

Who We Are - Founders


In 1989, Bob Bates, an artist and teacher, and Irwin Jaeger, an entrepreneur, teamed up to form Inner-City Arts. Their vision has brought the benefits of arts education to over 150,000 of the city's poorest children.

Irwin J. Jaeger, Co-Founder

Throughout his successful 40-year career in business management and commercial real estate development, Irv Jaeger has been committed to making a difference. Irv's visionary approach to problem-solving in the business world—his work with a major retail client has been documented by Harvard Graduate School of Business for use as a case study—was put to use in the non-profit world when he co-founded Inner-City Arts with artist Bob Bates. More than two decades after Irv and Bob's chance meeting as volunteers at a downtown elementary school, the organization they started in 1989 has made a difference in the lives of more than 150,000 at-risk children. Irv graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BA in Business Administration, where he was awarded several honors for academic and leadership achievement, and received an MBA from New York University. A life-long learner, Irv is an enthusiastic participant in undergraduate and graduate classes at UCLA.


Bob Bates, Co-Founder and Artistic Director

Bob Bates has been a professional artist for thirty years and has taught art throughout the country, including at the University of Miami in Florida. While working with kids on Skid Row in Los Angeles, Bob had a spiritual vision: to create an art space where at-risk children could explore their creativity, learn and grow. Joining forces with businessman and entrepreneur Irv Jaeger, Bob realized his vision when Inner-City Arts opened its doors to 60 children in 1989. As Inner-City Arts Artistic Director, Bob still brings vision, passion and dedication to his work with children, teachers and families, and is regularly invited to lead workshops in Los Angeles, throughout the country and internationally. Bob's creative journey as an artist, musician, inventor and educator is ongoing. His love of creativity is deeply linked to the mystery of life itself, and has guided him in all aspects of his explorations and interactions with children, teenagers and adults. Bob received a BA from the Kansas City Art Institute and a MFA from the University of Cincinnati.

ICA Who We Are - Founders

"The Happiest Place on Earth"

“If the real meaning of life is in our children—if our lives are to have any real meaning, we must do everything possible to enable these children to realize their dreams through enhancing their full potential.”