Inclusive Arts Clubhouse opens with ribbon-cutting ceremony
“What a blessing it is to see so many members of the Santa Barbara community come and support Grace’s vision!” said Debbie Fisher, the mother of the creator of the new Inclusive Arts Clubhouse.
On Wednesday, the Grace Fisher Foundation opened the Inclusive Arts Clubhouse located at La Cumbre Plaza in Santa Barbara.
In honor of the opening, the foundation hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony in partnership with the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce.
This clubhouse was started by Grace Fisher, the creator of the foundation.
Grace modeled her vision after her own experience with music and adaptive art therapy. Grace, who was a Santa Barbara High School senior at the time, was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis in 2014 when she contracted a virus that spread to her spine. She was paralyzed from the neck down, but that has not stopped her goal of spreading encouragement and love through art and music.
As expressed by her mother, Debbie Fisher, at the event, Grace’s vision for her life has always been to “have a foundation for kids with different disabilities.”
Grace Fisher was approached by Make-A-Wish in Santa Barbara to start a foundation to help other children with cognitive and physical disabilities experience the joys of art and music. Hence, the Inclusive Arts Clubhouse was born and fulfilled Grace’s dream.
The goal of the clubhouse is to foster a safe space where people who have cognitive or physical disabilities may express themselves in a studio accessible to them. The clubhouse will have classes and events dedicated to performing arts, music, painting and more. The space is also available to those who may want to rent the clubhouse for parties or events of their own.
Additionally, Jennifer Zacharias, one of the public relations managers of the event, explained that another one of the goals of the Grace Fisher Foundation alongside the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation — another local nonprofit — is to build an accessible playground in Santa Barbara.
In honor of the beginning of the arts clubhouse — an acclaimed new addition to Santa Barbara — people from all over the community helped put on the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce helped with the production of this event as well as the creation of the studio.
Michele Schneider, the chamber’s director of business development, led the opening remarks of the event, saying that she is “honored to be a part in the creation of the studio.” Ms. Schneider is good friends with Debbie and Grace Fisher, having walked alongside Grace throughout her journey of acute flaccid myelitis.
The event itself was a success, with close to 100 people in attendance to watch the ribbon cutting and visit the clubhouse.
The clubhouse was full of bright and beautiful colors, paintings, and displays for all the patrons to enjoy. For the guests, there were stations around the clubhouse for various crafts, where you could design something of your own.
The main interactive art exhibit featured a big sheet of paper covered by a plastic sheet on top with paint in the middle. Guests were allowed to walk over it to make a unique and abstract piece of art — one way to showcase the studio’s accessible art.
There were many important faces from around the community, including Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse.
“Grace has had a huge impact on the community. This is the culmination of her creative dream: to give back to her community. I am so overwhelmed by this!” exclaimed Mayor Rowse.
When it was time to cut the ribbon, everyone walked outside and stood behind Debbie Fisher, Michele Schneider and Mayor Rowse. On the count of three, led by Laurie Barene, the membership and Visitor Center ad sales coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce, the ribbon was cut.
And the cheers began.
Although Grace could not be in attendance, she did share some closing words for the audience, as conveyed by her mother: “We hope that everyone who comes inside (the clubhouse) feels a sense of belonging, that the arts are accessible, and most importantly: joy.”