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OCCTAC News - June 2021

Kappa Kappa Gamma

Raises Over $5,000 for OCCTAC

At Fleurish Together Event!

L-R: Dr. Ana Jimenez-Hami (Center) with Madison Mercer (R) and KKG Member (L)

Orange, CA--On May 6, the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at Chapman University hosted their annual “Fleurish Together” event, an outdoor festival and fundraiser to benefit OCCTAC that raised $5,115! This fun and festive event was held outdoors on the Musco lawn and was the first in-person event held at the university since the pandemic began in 2020. The sorority members made and sold arts and crafts at a variety of booths, and local bands played on the soundstage as students, faculty and visitors enjoyed a beautiful spring day while supporting the mission of OCCTAC. Thank you to Madison Mercer for reaching out to us and organizing the event, and to all the KKG members who worked so hard to make the event a success. Mil gracias Madison and Kappa Kappa Gamma for your loving hearts!


Santa Ana Councilmember Hernandez Awards OCCTAC Music Contest Winners

Santa Ana, CA--On June 10, we were so honored to visit the City of Santa Ana Council Chambers for a special ceremony by Councilmember Jonathan Ryan Hernandez to honor our 2021 Aspiring Musician Challenge winners! Councilmember Hernandez awarded each winner with an official certificate and inspired us all with his speech and passion for our mission. At the end of the ceremony, OCCTAC Music Coordinator Phoebe Stanciell presented Councilmember Hernandez with a gift of artwork from Jefferson Elementary student Daisy Lopez of one of his musical heroes, the late Tupac Shakur. Congratulations to Melanie Palacios, Camila Sanchez, Roberto Reyes, Bella Zarate, Johannes Zarate, Andrea Aleman and Melanie Castellano. We are so proud of you all! Thank you to Councilmember Hernandez and city council staff for making wonderful memories for our students, families, and staff.

Pictured L-R: Phoebe Stanciell, Councilmember Jonathan Ryan Hernandez, Bella Zarate, Johannes Zarate, Melanie Palacios, Melanie Castellano, Andrea Aleman, Camila Sanchez, & Roberto Reyes. Photo courtesy Mark Dimalanta.

Pictured L-R: Councilmember Jonathan Ryan Hernandez & Phoebe Stanciell. Photo courtesy Mark Dimalanta.


Santa Ana Utility Box Art Project to Kick Off California's Reopening With "Springtime"

After a year of pandemic lockdown, our community was reaching their breaking point regarding the fatigue from sheltering in place. With the end of a school year, a much-anticipated high school graduation, and California’s June 15th reopening, we timed our Utility Box Rehabilitation project to coincide with these milestone events.

OCCTAC and Corbin Family Resource Center wanted to celebrate the reopening with a chance to express our creativity and spread optimism with our “Springtime” visual art, designed by Marilyn De La Cruz, a design that was handpicked and voted on by the Corbin participants. This free flow of creativity was our chance to welcome summer and essentially our “new normal.” With PPE in place, we came together to beautify a city corner with the artwork that exemplifies our community and our children’s resilience.

Thank you to Corbin FRC staff Ruby Godinez and Esme Silva from Children’s Bureau and to OCCTAC Artist Jose Lozano for mentoring the kids in creating a beautiful project. Special Thanks to our emerging young artists: Marilyn De la Cruz (original artist), Brianna Ayala, Maria Serrano, Hayley Marino, and Daniel Cabral.

Picture Left: Marilyn De La Cruz Picture Right: Jose Lozano

Utility box on Bristol & McFadden. Pictured L-R: Brianna Ayala, Maria Serrano, Jose Lozano, & Marilyn De la Cruz. All photos courtesy Mark Dimalanta.


Interview With OCCTAC's Director of Arts Education: Part 2

Pictured L-R: Roberto Reyes, Carlos Beltran Arechiga, & Phoebe Stanciell.

Photo courtesy Mark Dimalanta.

We met up last month with Carlos Beltran Arechiga, OCCTAC’s Director of Arts Education, to discuss the future direction of arts programming at the center and how we plan to safely reopen our facilities to the public.

Define OCCTAC's inclusion philosophy and how that looks in the classroom (or how you see it benefitting students, etc.). CB: I see inclusion as the component that is needed in the recipe of equitable arts. Inclusion is not limited to ability but also to social and economic status. How do we include people? We include people through their desire to participate in the arts regardless of their economic, cognitive, or physical ability they may or may not have. It is important for us to pay attention to those students with special needs who are ready to take classes at a higher skill level, to challenge them. But that is just one component of inclusion. The other part of the inclusion experience is that we have afforded the opportunity for students without special needs to become mentors and leaders and friends with students who they otherwise might not have met. In the end, the gain is mutual because of the obvious friendships and I’m sure, in many cases, the life-long relationships that form. It does support one of our goals for the Prep Arts Academy to develop our students socially and emotionally. They need that. They need to practice empathy at a level that very few human beings have the opportunity to do. It supports their emotional development and self-esteem.

Figure 2 Pictured L-R: Elizabeth Azamatov, Claudia de la Cruz, Carlos Beltran Arechiga

Inclusion involves our instructors, our team. When a student takes the risk to grow, it leaves us with no other option than to keep an honest growth-mindset. I feel that in pivoting our programs to be multidisciplined and to have a higher rate of inclusion it has afforded our team an opportunity to realize that and to challenge the status quo. To have a better and different understanding of what success is. And this has ultimately given us a clear perspective of how to meet the needs of our students where they are at. Academically, emotionally, and with a sense of community. Inclusion encompasses, I think, all those things. It comes from the students, the staff, the community.

What plans does OCCTAC have for conducting in-person classes in the fall? Will there be options for those who cannot return to in-person learning?CB: Our families have shared with us that they are ready and willing to come in person. So, we have prepared our facilities to allow for this in a safe manner. We have contactless technology; our staff has been trained in our social distancing guidelines. What this means for us is that we will have a lower percentage of in-person attendees while running a concurrent virtual lesson. This will require an instructor and a volunteer aide to tend to the students who may disengage virtually. We are ready and we feel that the community is ready as well. In the event that we have a large number of families who are ready or are in need of the in-person classes, then we will stagger the schedule just the same way as some school districts are doing. For instance, the students could alternate their weekends to take every other week in person or virtual.

What is your vision for the future of OCCTAC Arts Programs? CB: Our students will soon become a company of performers who will travel outside of our state. They will achieve this within 3 years. You must remember that many of our students have never even been to the beach. Here is what’s powerful: they are going to travel beyond our mountains and beaches not just for leisure, but their talent will take them there. They are going to travel to enrich others.

I want to take you back to Carlos as a little boy in Mexico, who was learning to sing and then got the opportunity to tour the world because of that. Did you, as that child, ever envision that you would get to do that? Never. You must remember, I was raised by a single mother with four other siblings, in Mexico. I never thought I would have that opportunity, and to this day that opportunity has changed my life. Forever. That is the opportunity that I want for our students.

Pictured here: Carlos Beltran Arechiga with a family from our Prep Arts Academy. Photo courtesy Mark Dimalanta.

The “Oye Como Va” music video production was made possible with a grant from the California Arts Council. Stay tuned for the Summer Premiere of the music video of “Oye Como Va”and for more about our plans for the fall!


Upcoming Events & Workshops



Preparatory Arts Academy 2021

Classes for our amazing Preparatory Arts Academy are open for registration now! Studio Arts, Dance, Music, Media Arts and more! Call us or visit our website for more information on how your students can be part of the OCCTAC dream!

OCCTAC: 714.547.5468




OCCTAC’s Youth Employment Program is accepting applications! Santa Ana youth between the ages of 16-24 years old interested in gaining paid work experience, job training, and educational assistance are welcome to apply. For more information about the program and requirements please call the OCCTAC at (714)547-5468 and ask to speak with a Youth Employment Program staff member. Meetings are currently taking place by appointment only.


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Become a Donor

Did you know that when you donate, you are improving your own health as well? A study by the University of Oregon found that donating activates the pleasure center in your brain. Voluntary donations are especially pleasurable and improve your happiness, joy, and contentment! OCCTAC is forever grateful to our Supporters and Community Partners! Their donations and support continue to help our Arts Center grow and bring opportunities to our families and community, and you can be part of this as well!

Please help OCCTAC by sharing our Social Media links, liking our page, sharing our events and donating to our center! Find out how by clicking on the link below:

Donate with Amazon Smile!

You can help OCCTAC today by donating money, choosing to donate on a recurring basis, or by designating “Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center” as your charity when purchasing through Amazon via their Amazon Smile program at Here are the simple steps to designate OCCTAC as your charitable organization to receive a portion of the purchase price:

  1. On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you need to select “Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts” to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.

  2. If you already use Amazon Smile for another charity, you can change your charity to "Orange County Therapeutic Arts" on your Amazon Smile home page. ​

We appreciate you and your continued support of OCCTAC’s mission to provide innovative, artistic, educational and therapeutic programs that inspire and transform children, at-risk youth, adults and their families to fulfill their highest potential.

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