Exciting news!

After 14 years as an all-volunteer organization on Saint Paul’s East Side, Young Artists Initiative (YAI) is proud to announce the hiring of Matt Berdahl as the company’s first paid Artistic Director!


Continue reading to learn more about YAI’s 14-year journey, our Meet & Greet event on September 29, and Matt’s background and experience that he brings to this work at YAI.


(Pictured L to R: YAI Founder Benjamin Lacina and new Artistic Director Matthew Berdahl. Photo credit: Andy Blenkush)

More about YAI’s journey

In 2018, YAI will celebrate its 15th season of signature, high quality arts programming for the young people on Saint Paul’s East Side. 


Founded in 2004 by arts educators Benjamin Lacina and Jefferson Fietek, YAI grew out of their desire to provide excellent theater arts opportunities to young people who may lack access to such experiences. YAI’s founders were awarded the 2009 Ordway Center Education Award for Community Commitment. Many artists and families have said they come to YAI because they are impressed with YAI’s mission, artistic quality and integrity, and the organization’s commitment to kids. 


In 2011, Jefferson moved on to other non-profit work in the Twin Cities, and Benjamin took over all Artistic and Education Director responsibilities. YAI recruited additional leaders from the ranks of alumni families and community members, whose commitment included significant long-range planning and supporting the work. 


In 2015, YAI achieved status as an independent 501(c)(3) organization and has used this status to strengthen and build new support for its mission in the community. Benjamin is eager to begin the transition to Matt’s Artistic Director leadership as YAI solidifies plans for 2018. The Board is excited by this transition that will celebrate YAI’s 15th season and many more to come.


Get involved!

Share your skills, help out with events, or volunteer during this transition to help YAI build the next generation of great youth theater programming. Please contact YAI via email: info@youngartistsmn.org

Mark your calendars for our annual

Alumni Variety Show Fundraiser: November 4!

More info coming soon!