Merced County Times Newspaper
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Santa meets with artists at Merced’s Enrichment Center


Santa paid a special visit to some very special artists at the Enrichment Center (EC) inside the Multicultural Arts Center (MAC) on the third floor in downtown Merced.

The EC Artists were tickled to see him and share their art with him.

The Enrichment Center hosts a visual plus performing arts-based adult day program of the Merced County Arts Council for artists with developmental disabilities that began in 2000. The EC offers studio practice, workshops, opportunities for gallery exhibits and art-based community options. All EC Artists plan their own study and program experience, signing up for sets of 13-week studios or workshops, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Oscar Onsurez, a sailboat artist, has been in the program since 2001, but most of the participants came after 2007.

The EC Artists are ages 22-56. Their art creations are on display on the 3rd floor of the MAC and are for sale. Anyone interested in seeing the art for sale, should call (209) 388-1162 to schedule a visit.

Previous Program Director, Shannon Essig, redesigned the original program to create a forum for exploration, study and practice of arts with an emphasis in making independent choices. Her redesign has been continued with all the EC Artists and staff: Theatre Arts instructor James Bennett, Digital Arts Instructor Paul Longo, Ceramics Instructor Kristine Hansen, Visual Arts Instructors Ileana Quezada and new instructor Grace Garnica. Eulalia Gámez, a graduate from UC Merced, is the current Program Director providing overall management of the program.

There has been a group effort recently to increase community activities. James Bennett, Theatre Arts Instructor and Colton Dennis, Executive Director, have been at the forefront of starting these conversations from local performing arts organizations to Merced Shakespearefest and Playhouse Merced. Other opportunities are brought to Gámez by the EC Artists or staff with an event flyer. The event flyers are then translated for ED Artist’s families so there’s more likeliness they will be able to attend. Gámez also reaches out to other organizations to see what they can do to make an event or performance accessible to the EC Artists from the program. For example, reaching out to the Merced Symphony made it possible for a lot of the EC Artists to see their first orchestra concert thanks to Jennifer Summers, Merced Symphony Executive Director and Ryan Heller, Board President.

Inquiries about the program should be directed to Eulalia Gámez at (209) 388-1162.

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