2601 N. Howard St., Ste. 320, yamd.org, (410) 837-7577
Part of a larger national arts and education nonprofit organization, Young Audiences of Maryland connects all kinds of artists and arts-education programs with schools all over the state. Arts funding is always the first casualty of budget cuts, and Young Artists is there to fill the void, recruiting-and paying-dancers, actors, musicians, painters, and bands (like "Best Kids' Band" Milkshake, for example) to come into schools to perform and inspire. They've been doing it for decades, and if you grew up going to public schools in Maryland, you probably remember those assemblies as a highlight of the year-we sure do. And with ever-increasing pressure to focus on test scores and eliminate the parts of school that feed the soul as well as the mind, their work is more crucial now than ever.