Our organization first brought arts-in-education programs to Virginia in 1955. From its humble beginnings with a single string ensemble and a handful of volunteers, the organization has grown to one with nearly 150 professional artists in various artistic disciplines.
In our first decade we worked in the Hampton Roads area with the Feldman String Quartet and visited 20 schools. In the 1960s, the Norfolk Chapter of Young Audiences was independently incorporated as a nonprofit organization, and our programming increased to 90 hours per year. During our third decade, the 1970s, we hired our first professional staff and our programs doubled. The organization changed its name to reflect our entire service area, and we became the Virginia Chapter of Young Audiences, Inc. In the 1980s, our programs expanded extensively into Central, Southwestern, and Northern Virginia, as well as North Carolina and West Virginia. During this productive decade, our board of directors elected to change our name to Young Audiences of Virginia, Inc.
In the 1990s, the organization expanded significantly, and we were doing more than 900 hours in schools throughout the state. As part of a national network, Young Audiences, Inc. received the National Medal of Arts, which was presented by President Bill Clinton to one of our national board members, Yo-Yo Ma, at the White House. During this critical decade of our history, we began to integrate our programming fully into the Virginia Standards of Learning mandated by the State Department of Education.
Now, seventeen years after we adopted “Arts for Learning” as part of our identity, Young Audiences Arts for Learning Virginia announced a change in our name. Once again, we need to portray a stronger and better understood image in the community given the full breadth of our artistic offerings. Therefore we have adopted Arts for Learning as our updated name. The refreshed name and logo more clearly communicate what our organization does, while honoring the rich history and dynamic connection we have with the Young Audiences’ network across the country.
At 66 years young, we are proud to say we have impacted the lives of more than 10 million Virginia students. We look forward to continuing to provide the very best in arts-education programming service to students, educators, and families through the Commonwealth. We are rededicating ourselves to the challenge of integrating the arts into education through performances, workshops, Out-of-School Time programming, and digital programming. Each year we will strive to positively impact the lives of more youth than we did the year before.
Every day, this organization does what the classroom teacher may not have the time or the resources to do – we engage the imagination and spirit of children through the life-changing power of the arts!