Affili-Nation: Young Audiences of Houston

“The arts are the life blood of every school and community”
Often, an organization is only perceived through its events, programs, and results (as it is intended to). Affili-Nations mission is to introduce the YA community to the incredible people in each Affiliate organization who make the magic happen. Meet Mary Curry Mettenbrink – Executive Director of YA Houston. 
Mary Curry Mettenbrink said that the arts, to her, means innovation, determination, and hope for children who crave a spark of passion. She believes that arts in education means providing access to all children. The most transformative schools she has seen support fine arts educators, offer creative learning afterschool, provide on-going community partnerships, field trips, professional training by using arts-based tools for educators, and engage families through arts in education. 
She was drawn to arts education through her high school art teacher who gave her the courage to continue through her education after high school. Her inspiration continued through college by thriving in the environment which allowed her to think creatively and freely. “We must as a nation understand and value that for the future of our country and our children” Mary stated. Today, she works for Young Audiences to provide opportunities for youth.
Mary has been working with Young Audiences for eleven years now. Her first experience with YA invovled her observing the Soul Street Dance Company her first day on the job, and spoke about how this experience would have been life changing for her as a young woman, had she been exposed to it in school. Young Audiences of Houston has shifted from a reactive to proactive organization - identifying needs, creating a system of change to move the needle on arts access in a dramatic way for and with our schools in the region, creating inclusive support systems with artists, removing silos of operation, creating sustainable systems through collaboration, and removing barriers.
Mary identifies four aspects of being executive director that she explains to be her favorite parts of the job. The first, being the support of the children, watching their creativity grow as well as their passion and confidence. The second, being the generosity of the donors in Houston and their unconditional support for the communities. The third, being the artists who are creating their own success through the support of this organization. The fourth and final, being the teachers, with whom Mary describes as “being her own personal inspiration”, and, “some of the most creative thinkers I’ve ever met”
Make sure to check in with us every Tuesday to meet an Affiliate staff member who is responsible for the incredible work these organizations do!

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