About Us

CAYO believes in the potential of arts diplomacy. CAYO provides a professional-level musical and educational experience in which Cuban and American youth can turn to each other with honest curiosity and a true desire for mutual learning. CAYO seeks to leave a musical imprint on the hearts of our musicians, staff and audience, cultivating a spirit of goodwill and hope for our mutual futures.


As a working musician, educator, and arts administrator for the past 20 years, I have learned that a complete musician – and human – requires equal parts mind and heart. The 90 miles which separates the United States and Cuba also holds the seeds of mutually beneficial learning. No American on the Minnesota Orchestra tour left the island untouched by the intuitive sensitivity of the young musicians we met in Havana and the goodwill of the Cubans who welcomed us as friends. As the Executive Director of CAYO, I am seeking supporters and partners who can help launch and shape this ambitious project.

At turning points in history, the arts can act as a messenger, sent ahead of the document signings, as a sign of goodwill and hope for our mutual futures. And because children are the most crucial recipients of that message, there is no better way to deliver it than through arts education. Because of the vision of those who dared to dream big in 2015, those of us from that trip can promise, without reservation, that it will be something these students will never forget; we can hope, without fear, that music will help us all become the humanity we hope to be.

– Rena Kraut


CAYO is proud to announce the launch of an artist residency program which provides focused opportunities for individuals ready to take their talents the next level. CAYO Residencies are a multifaceted approach for musicians who demonstrate significant talent, drive and work ethic. CAYO musicians who have participated in some form of CAYO programming are invited to apply via an online process to demonstrate readiness for this opportunity. Residency lengths can vary from two weeks to up to three months depending on each participant’s individual situation. A CAYO Residency is tailored to each participant and may include lessons, seminars, community outreach projects, language classes, and career development mentoring.


CAYO’s initial programming in fall 2017 and spring 2018 saw handpicked pre-professional musicians from Havana and Minnesota come together for a week of music and leadership training in Minneapolis, crowned by performances side-by-side with principals of the Minnesota Orchestra to standing room only audiences at the city’s Orchestra Hall, as well as on American Public Media’s Performance Today.

CAYO Academies give pre-professional musicians from the US and Cuba the opportunity to develop their own leadership capabilities under the tutelage of experienced professionals. Participants learn how to strengthen ties to local communities through education and performance at local businesses, city elementary schools, and small-town senior living communities. Academies are focused on developing 21st century ambassadors, artist-leaders who are empowered to use their talents for the pursuit of a better world.

Arts Delegations

Small group citizen travel to Cuba allows CAYO to create performance and travel opportunities for Cuban pre-professional musicians during a time of increased restrictions on travel for Cubans. American and Cuban musicians spend time learning what our cultures share and how we are unique while building friendships and trust.

Delegations are for anyone interested in

  • Serving the artist communities of the US and Cuba
  • Experiencing high-impact travel opportunities for supporters of the arts and international learning
  • Gaining people-to-people experiences with working and student artists in dance, music, and the visual arts
  • Enjoying intergenerational and cross-cultural travel in small groups
  • Discovering authentic collaborations between musicians from different backgrounds