New Orleans Be the Change Spotlight :: YAYA Arts Center

This month for our “Be the Change Spotlight” I’d like to introduce you to YAYA Arts Center, an organization committed to empowering creative young people to become successful adults.

How YAYA Got Started::

Founded in 1988, YAYA (Young Aspirations Young Artists, Inc.) began as a creative and entrepreneurial partnership between New Orleans artist Jana Napoli and art students from Rabouin High School (International High School of New Orleans). The after-school enrichment program nurtured the creative talents of local high school students in ways that also strengthened their academic success, life skills, and professional preparedness. With a focus on found objects and repurposed materials, early YAYA Artists (The Original 8) learned to turn their creative talents into career pathways. The “YAYAs” sold artworks throughout the CBD (Central Business District) of New Orleans, then in New York and other U.S. cities, and finally internationally. In the process, YAYA’s guild program of youth development through art became a model for emerging organizations across the country.

YAYA’s programs have expanded over the years as they continue to work with students after school in our home studio. YAYA works with close to 3,000 students each year. In 2015, YAYA broadened its programming once more and built and moved into the new YAYA ARTS CENTER, a high-quality arts campus that brings YAYA’s more than quarter century of successful programs into the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans.

What Does YAYA Do?

YAYA provides visual arts education, entrepreneurship training, and leadership skills to creative young people, empowering them to become successful adults. YAYA is an expansive creative community where young people have the freedom, opportunities, and resources to discover their artistic voices and passions. YAYA offers training in painting, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, a range of glassmaking techniques and many other media. The goal is for each young person to leave YAYA prepared for their adult lives, whether that includes college, pursuing a career in the arts, or entering the workforce. This is achieved through a seamless blending of visual arts training with leadership and entrepreneurial skills in a mentorship-based atmosphere that exposes young people to a range of creative professions.

YAYA offers free after school programs for youth, ages 5-25, six days per week at the YAYA Arts Center in Central City. The Arts Center is a multipurpose space created for teaching programs and for hosting events, along with an open air glass working studio which caters to its various instructional, social, and creative activities. An inclusive and inspirational space for the city’s youth, YAYA reaches thousands of young people and their families each year, nurturing the next generation of creative professionals and culture bearers.

How Can You Support YAYA?

Support the next generation of New Orleans artists and help YAYA sustain their work in the future by making a donation here.  You can also support YAYA by purchasing or commissioning artwork which directly supports YAYA’s programs, and the artists keep at least 50% of the selling price of their work.

“In school, everybody goes to the same class, learns the same things. YAYA is different. There’s not really a limit.” – YAYA Teen Guild Artist

Learn more about YAYA Arts Center::
Website • Facebook • Instagram

If you’re interested in nominating an organization to be featured in our New Orleans Be the Change Spotlight, please email us at [email protected].


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