Worcester Cultural Coalition Announces Appointment of El Salón as Artist In Residence


El Salón will be the first artist in residence at the Jean McDonough Arts Center

WORCESTER, MA – March 22, 2021 – In an effort to engage and empower the creative community, the Worcester Cultural Coalition launched a pilot Artist in Residence program at the Jean McDonough Arts Center (JMAC). Creative entity El Salón will be the first to fulfill the residency, which is set to begin by mid April.

Founded in 2019 by Worcester native Vanessa Calixto, El Salón is a collective of artists that organize intentional and inclusive spaces for BIPOC artists and creatives. Their mission is to empower these groups to take space, share their skills with one another, and create their own opportunities. BrickBox managing director Olivia Scanlon notes that “the JMAC is a mechanism created to provide equitable opportunities and access for the creative community. Having a collection of BIPOC artists led by a BIPOC woman, only highlighted their already stellar residency proposal.”

“El Salón will receive mentorship, guidance from the JMAC staff, technical support, use of the JMAC spaces valued at $10,000, and up to $15,000 in discretionary funding,” noted Erin Williams, executive director of the Worcester Cultural Coalition. “The pilot Artist in Residency program is funded by our generous partners at the  Barr Foundation. The residency is an outgrowth of the Worcester Cultural Plan, committed to bring the arts and creativity to life for everyone in Worcester.”

“We are so grateful to be recognized not only for our mission and group’s effort but for our communities’ voices to be heard and to continue to be heard,” said Vanessa Calixto, founder and creative director of El Salón. “We are humbled and excited to take well deserved space for our marginalized communities.”

Upon reviewing dozens of applicants, El Salón stood out as a result of its detailed application and visual supplemental materials. “We were highly impressed by the nature of the work that they have been able to accomplish thus far as a grassroots organization of diverse and culturally-minded younger people,” noted Hank von Hellion, managing director of the Worcester PopUp at the JMAC. Von Hellion also said that El Salón, “exemplifies the kind of talent and spirit of will that needs to be embraced if we as a community truly want to keep our city creatively vibrant, accessible across all power dynamics, and appreciative of the breadth of cultural communities that call Worcester home. These are the kinds of projects and people that are redefining what it means to be from Worcester, and we are thrilled to be able to support this kind of growth and these powerful voices here at the JMAC.”

The residency project requires utilization of the entire JMAC, including the Worcester PopUp and the BrickBox Theater, as well as recording and production equipment. Additional elements require the inclusion of public development or a workshop, as well as a public event to conclude the residency consistent with evolving COVID-19 guidelines.

About the Jean McDonough Arts Center

Composed of the ever-changing “permanent” PopUp and the intimate BrickBox Theater, the Jean McDonough Arts Center (JMAC) is an initiative of the Worcester Cultural Coalition, and home to myriad creative events and cultural initiatives. Individuals and groups can present or develop a wide range of work at the JMAC, including but not limited to work in theater, dance, film, music, performance art, visual art, fashion design and video game design. Learn more at JMACWorcester.org.

About El Salón

El Salon is an intentional and inclusive space for BIPOC artists and creatives to feel empowered by taking space, sharing skills, and creating their own opportunities. Learn more at https://www.instagram.com/_el_salon_/ 

About the Worcester Cultural Coalition 

The Worcester Cultural Coalition (WCC) is a public-private partnership established in 1999 between the City of Worcester and 12 cultural organizations. In 2021, membership exceeds 80 organizations, which host over 2.7 million visitors annually, from Worcester and beyond. Its mission is to draw on Worcester’s rich and diverse cultural assets to foster economic revitalization, support active and creative engagement for all, and to promote a strong cultural identity for Greater Worcester. The WCC supports and encourages action that meets the creative goals of the Worcester Cultural Plan: promoting cultural equity and creative community engagement for all. Learn more at www.worcesterculture.org.

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