In its 26 years as an arts education program, Young Aspirations/Young Artists (YA/YA) has grown from a single-school operation to one that serves youths across the city. On June 30, YAYA got its first custom-built Arts Center on LaSalle Street in Central City. Harmony Neighborhood Development, Bild Design and Landis Construction Company helped build the two-story arts center, which includes classrooms and glass and ceramics studios.
"This is the first time that we've been in a purely residential neighborhood," Lesley McBride, YAYA operations coordinator, told Gambit. "So this is the first time that we've been in a true neighborhood where we can service the people that are directly at our doorstep."
YAYA designs arts education curricula for 28 schools to provide career and college preparation to students in New Orleans. Forty students can now practice art inside the $1.3 million arts center, which is modern and airy and feels like a treehouse. An eco-arts sculpture garden will reinforce that feeling.
The balcony where a garden will be installed has a window overlooking the glass studio. It occurred to YAYA staff while moving in that the window could serve two purposes: looking down, but also looking up. "We're considering theater performances," McBride said. "Like if we had puppet shows coming up through there, you could stand down here and look up. It's an incredibly transformable space."
Equipment and furniture from YAYA's old home on Conti Street were moved via crane, car and human arms.
The public is invited to take glass and sculpture classes in the new space starting Sept. 1.