For many people with disabilities, there was very little care available outside of a public hospital, let alone accessible arts services.
Everything changed with the founding of Able ARTS Work, which offers creative services and artistic therapies to all, with an emphasis on serving people with disabilities.
“The arts are human, we are wired for rhythm, we are wired for sound, we are wired for music. . . our speech is rhythmic, our march is rhythmic, ”said Dolas. “Everything within us has rhythm and movement, and music, art and dance are all part of this humanistic life experience, so we need the arts to stimulate our brains. “
Music is the one thing that can activate the whole brain, Dolas said, and you don’t have to be an artist or a musician to be creative.
Not only does art and music benefit academic advancement as well as critical thinking, but they can also empower the subconscious to express itself, she explained.
“There may be something problematic or a challenge that a child or adult might have, where they may not feel safe or comfortable speaking or expressing these thoughts or feelings, but it can come out in the creative arts can come out in art therapy, ”she said. “A trained art therapist is able to recognize these symbols and signs in the work of art to be able to follow and process them in a therapeutic process.”
Compared to arts education which is more product-oriented, art therapy is rather more process-oriented, Dolas said.
The non-profit organization, which started with one-day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, has expanded to include three-day programs and services for children and adolescents in the greater region. from Los Angeles.
In 2022, Able ARTS even presents its programming in San Diego.
The organization tries to reach as many people as possible, working with schools, community centers and other day programs, even working in prison settings and with at-risk youth, said Honor Dunn, director. operations.
Adults with developmental disabilities can receive individual services at home, and children with autism can use the organization’s health and wellness clinic. Accessible art workshops aim to reach people from marginalized and underserved communities, she said.
Particularly since the pandemic, the organization has been able to quickly pivot and connect to the community with an inclusive and accessible learning site, Learn for life, which emphasizes creativity and well-being, professional development and continuing education.
“It’s been such a difficult time and it really affected the communities we serve – the isolation, the loneliness, the lack of services that are out there, it’s real,” said Dunn. “The culture of the organization is this constant: ‘How can we be better and how can we make ourselves more accessible? »How can we make ourselves more inclusive? And how can we have a higher level of representation? ‘ “
Able ARTS Work participants can take classes ranging from visual arts to music, drama or dance, with many classes emphasizing community connections and engagement as well as employment, Dunn said. .
Opportunities to produce podcasts or exhibit artwork in a gallery are available to students, including through the organization’s 2nd and PCH gallery in the past year and a half. In January, the location will move to the Expo Center for the Arts in Bixby Knolls.
The non-profit organization sees the arts as a viable employment option for many students, and areas of opportunity are addressed while creating a bridge between students and the community.
Thanks to the organization’s gallery space, many attendees have become active artists, and since the pandemic, Able ARTS Work students have sold more works of art than ever before in history. organisation.
“I can probably safely say that we are the first non-profit in the city of Long Beach that can create this opportunity for people with disabilities to be able to submit works of art, to display their works in an exhibition. and then to be able to sell their artwork and get paid employment, ”Dolas said.
According to Dolas, many students generally do not have access to jobs and live in poverty, but the sale of their works of art has helped some to get out of ISS and better support themselves.
“We are creating this bridge of understanding and accommodation so that being an artist in the community is accessible to all of our students,” she said.
Whether it’s becoming a professional artist, improving one’s social or language skills, or addressing physical or emotional development, Able ARTS Work aims to ensure that everyone can have an artistic experience, whatever regardless of the physical, cognitive or emotional differences, Dolas said.
The next step for the organization is to find its own permanent home in Long Beach, hopefully in 2022. Contribute to its fundraising campaign here.
Library Foundation welcomes new CEO
The Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Trustees announced its new Executive Director and CEO on December 27. Veronica Garcia Dávalos, who brings more than 30 years of nonprofit management experience to her role, will take office on January 17.
Dávalos will lead the Library Foundation as it begins a new era that has just celebrated its 25th anniversary and more than $ 25 million has been raised for the programs and resources of the city’s 12 public libraries since its founding.
Currently, Dávalos is Executive Director of the Greater Long Beach, South May, Metro and Southeast Los Angeles Chapter of the American Red Cross, and previously served as Vice President of Advocacy and Community Engagement for the Habitat for Humanity Greater Los Angeles. She has also held various leadership roles for Netzel Grigsby (a management and consulting firm specializing in nonprofit organizations and institutions), MOLAA, TELACU Education Foundation, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society. , KCET and the Boy Scouts of America.
In addition to her work as the head of nonprofit organizations, Dávalos serves on the Long Beach Citizen’s Police Complaints Commission, is a past president of Leadership Long Beach, and co-founder of the United Latino Fund and the National Latina Alliance.
Dávalos joined the Library Foundation after the departure of former CEO / CEO Kate Azar in June this year, after more than five years at the helm of the organization.