As the effects of the Covid 19 Pandemic and months spent in quarantine communities are realizing firsthand the negative effects of life without arts engagement. Thanks to a variety of Government agencies and private foundations have stepped up to provide funding support for programs that safely engage youth and many of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Santa Barbara Dance Institute (SBDI) has received a General Operating Relief grant from the California Arts Council in its efforts to provide support for Arts & Cultural Organizations.
SBDI focuses all its programs to provide dance education, and all its gifts, to children who otherwise would not be able to access quality dance programs due to financial or physical barriers.
General operating support could not come at a better time for SBDI. When the pandemic hit, March of 2020, SBDI continued programming in synchronous and asynchronous online classes. However, when only a few contracts came through during the 2020-2021 school year, SBDI made the decision to continue regardless of funding and offered free lessons in our local parks absorbing much loss of earned income. Additionally, SBDI served over 1,000 children in SBUSD’s inaugural Summer School and covered 50% of the cost.
“We knew that children still wanted and needed to dance so we began our own direct outreach to connect with our students. Through texting, calling, and emailing we discovered that, while community centers & dance studios were opening again, our students could either not physically get there or could not afford the program, pointing to a systemic issue that keeps a part of our population disadvantaged,” states Rosalina Macisco, founder of SBDI.
Gathering the best times and locations for classes, SBDI held classes in the Eastside Neighborhood Park. Students shared that they weren’t active at home and felt depressed and isolated. “I’m alone at home, I sit around. I’m actually stressed out.” One student shared with Rosalina.
Kathy Serrano, SBUSD After School Coordinator had this to say about SBDI’s After-School Programs, “…they allow for Santa Barbara Unified School District’s most vulnerable families to work in the evening, knowing that their children are in a safe and enriching environment. The result of the SBDI presence in our schools is also showing academic gains in the regular school setting through the students’ increased impulse control, listening skills, self-awareness, and self-esteem.”
In the park, the kids were elated to see each other and of course dance together. A 3rd grade parent shared, “My daughter is a new person, I see the sparkle back in her eye. She can’t wait to dance on Wednesdays with her friends.” “SBDI provides leadership that guides students through processing all that this past year and a has brought. SBDI is a safe place for kids to take risks, support each other, and shine with a newfound confidence.” – parent of 6th grade student.
“As a collective we are processing and will continue to process all that this pandemic, and our racial reckoning is bringing to light. Deaths, murders, isolation, we all have had to contend with these things in one way or another this year. Through movement and dance we process through our bodies releasing emotions so we can move forward with a lightness and joy in our hearts.” Rosalina Macisco, Founder of SBDI states. Recently appointed to the California Dance Education Association (CDEA), a non-profit professional organization serving dance artists, teachers and scholars through advocacy and professional development opportunities in the state of CA as well as Luna Dance Institute, an organization committed to bringing creativity, equity and community to every child’s life through the art of dance, Rosalina believes that the healing and community building aspects of dance are more important now than ever before.
Background & Impact
Working with schools and community centers with little to no art programming since 2005, SBDI’s programs immerse students in music and dance, fostering pride in personal achievement, a love of the arts, and a curiosity about the world. Through direct programming and professional development, we have reached 25,000+ children, 80+ teachers, and 30,000+ audience members. SBDI delivers consistent, structured dance classes with an emphasis on celebrating Latin culture along with current music and dance that is relevant to the communities we serve. A longitudinal study on SBDI students by Dr. Dabos from CA State University Channel Islands showed that more than 28 of the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental assets (supports and strengths that young people need to succeed) improved in our students.
“Our strategies are based on the belief that dance should be a part of every child’s education and not just for those who can afford it. Working closely with schools and community centers, we believe that a healthy community requires public engagement that supports and embraces our community’s racial, cultural, and socio-economic complexity” explains Rosalina Macisco founder of SBDI.
Ms. Macisco is the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and Italian American father. She is bilingual, first generation Latinx and New York native who has performed professionally for 15+ years, appearing in Off-Broadway plays, regional theater productions, and national television commercials. She has also toured with many musical productions throughout Europe. Recently, she participated in a strategic planning process with the Santa Barbara County Alliance for Arts & Education and other key stakeholders to create a 3–5-year Santa Barbara County Blueprint for Arts Education.
For more information, please go to sbdi.org.