OC Arts and Disability Festival to make a splash with creativity and inclusivity on April 27

2023 Orange County Arts and Disability Festival
The Orange County Arts and Disability Festival, hosted by William Allen Young and American Sign Language interpreter Paula Dunn, united the community in April 2023 to celebrate the talents of students and adults with disabilities.

The 48th annual Orange County Arts and Disability Festival is weeks away from returning to MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana on Saturday, April 27, with the theme “Make a Splash.” 

Hosted by the Orange County Department of Education in partnership with Orange County Arts and Disability, the daylong family-friendly event is a cornerstone of Arts Orange County’s annual “Imagination Celebration.”

The festival will welcome Rena Strober as the new mistress of ceremonies and Mayleen Richardson, an American Sign Language interpreter, as they lead the show, providing a platform for students and adults with disabilities to exhibit artwork and showcase their talents in writing, dance, music, theater and visual arts.

OC Arts and Disability Festival attendees visit art exhibit

“The idea behind this year’s theme is to elevate a dynamic group of visual and performing artists who are challenging common narratives surrounding disability by showing the range of amazing things artists with disabilities can do,” Marleena Barber, director of Orange County Arts and Disability, said.

This year’s event, which is free and open to the public, will kick off with the opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. in Macy’s court. 

Groups will perform on the main stage until 4 p.m., including performances by Straight Up Abilities, School D: Arts School for All Abilities from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Venture Academy choir from the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, Hope School from the Anaheim Union High School District and students from OCDE programs. The festival will also feature Improv actress Jessica Hayes, who will share an original story inspired by selected student artwork.

The festival includes an array of activities, including an ocean-themed scavenger hunt, an art exhibit and a resource fair aimed at promoting awareness of arts and disability. From 12 to 4 p.m., participating organizations such as OCDE’s Connections program, the Braille Institute, Girl Scouts of Orange County and Unlimited Possibilities will be on hand to engage attendees with interactive experiences and valuable insights. 

The Festival’s exhibit featuring nearly 700 pieces of artwork, which is scheduled to remain on display at MainPlace through May 8, offers a chance to catch the wave of creativity even after the event ends. 

For additional information, contact Marleena Barber, OCDE Visual and Performing Arts consultant and director of Orange County Arts and Disability, at s.mbarber@ocde.us.