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Interview date: 7.24.15


Gene Meneray is CEO of YAYA. The organization’s name is an acronym for Young Aspirations/Young Artists. Jana Napoli founded YAYA in 1988 to educate, nurture, and empower creative young New Orleanians. According to Gene, "YAYA seeks to provide empowerment through visual arts, entrepreneurship, and education.” YAYA's students, who range in age from 13 to 25 years, come from all over the New Orleans area attend classes in ceramics, glass blowing, painting, and sculpture, all free of charge. Gene points out that not only do students learn about art, they also learn about other people through YAYA. As they develop their create skills, YAYA students meet people from many different parts of the city. In addition to helping young artists learn how to create art, a big area of focus at YAYA is the idea that art can be a sellable product. YAYA’s brand new building at 3322 LaSalle Street offers YAYA students a clean, safe, attractive work space where they can express themselves through their art. As Gene notes, "Art allows people to express themselves in a different way than they are use to.” Besides classes for young artists, YAYA also has some classes available for adults. If you or your child are interested in exploring your inner artist, visit


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