A grant to benefit Mobile Art-Based Engagement Lab

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A $10,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities will benefit MABEL, the Mobile Art-Based Engagement Lab, which provides access to arts in underserved communities. This grant enables MABEL to offer free hands-on art experiences and activities to create connections, spark creativity, catalyze change and prompt discussion.

MABEL is a colorful 12-foot modular trailer offering the flexibility to provide an ideal space for any artistic experience. Intended to be an extension of the Mesa Arts Center campus, MABEL serves as an easy access point for anyone to engage with the arts.

“MABEL has had a huge journey since she’s first been wheeled on the ground, which was in 2020, so as you can imagine we didn’t quite know what to do with her at that time. Slowly but surely, we’ve been able to realize our original vision which was dictated and guided by community conversations. The community was actively asking for something like MABEL to show up in our community,” Danica Marlin said, Community Engagement Specialist at Mesa Arts Center.

MABEL began in-person making sessions as soon as possible, but before then, they had to-go kits. The new funding they have received helps MABEL show up whenever they are needed and make an impact on the community.

“The arts have been exclusive historically as we know, it’s been an echo-chamber. So it’s really important to open that up and allow for these spaces and the arts to be a tool to transcend barriers and to leverage perspective sharing and allow for insights from one another,” Marlin said.

The grant money will be used in a majority of ways, according to Marlin. MABEL starts with community chats and asks the community what they would like to see and how they can make that responsive programming, which answers some of the wants and needs of the community.

“We do try and share all of our events and programming on our website, https://mesaartscenter.com/mabel, and we also post as we can through social media and Nextdoor to allow for the news to be heard,” Marlin said.

Danica Marlin, Community Engagement Specialist at Mesa Arts Center

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