“Mama Tarika” Lewis teaching a class of young violinists


William Ktsanes, his son “Bon” and Tacuma King backstage with Wynton Marsalis

Bay Area Youth Arts was founded in 2005 by William Ktsanes, Tacuma King and Tarika Lewis.  The nonprofit organization grew out of the Children in Flight program begun by musician Tacuma King and artist Jessica Felix in 1993 (with sponsorship from the nonprofit performing arts organization Jazz in Flight).  Inspired by the vision of Don Moye, master percussionist of the avant-garde jazz quintet Art Ensemble of Chicago, Tacuma and Jessica created a free arts program providing inner-city youth with instruction in African drumming and dance.

Over the years thousands of young people of all ages have participated in Children in Flight’s highly acclaimed classes and workshops.  On any given Saturday 20 to 30 boisterous youngsters come together for two hours of instruction in drumming, dance and song.  Many thousands more have enjoyed Tacuma’s workshops and performances in their schools and community centers.

Building upon the success of the Children in Flight program, Bay Area Youth Arts was established to provide young people an expanded offering of programs, classes and workshops in the cultural arts.  In addition to the original Children in Flight class, we offer youth classes in advanced African and jazz percussion and beginning classical and jazz violin as well as a variety of educational workshops and performances.

Bay Area Youth Arts was a founding member of the Malonga Arts Collective—a vibrant community of artists, musicians and dancers in downtown Oakland’s Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts.  We are supportive of other youth development and arts programs, collaborating whenever possible with a variety of community organizations, schools and nonprofit organizations.

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