Dreams really can come true, and the entire community now has something special to celebrate thanks to the inimitable spirit and determination of Grace Fisher and the Grace Fisher Foundation. March 8 marked the official grand opening of the Grace Fisher Foundation Inclusive Arts Clubhouse and the fulfillment of a longtime dream for the 24-year-old musician, artist, activist, and entrepreneur.
A gifted musician who was headed to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Fisher’s life took an unexpected twist in her senior year of Santa Barbara High School in 2014, when, at age 17, she contracted a virus that spread to her spine and left her paralyzed from the neck down. Diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, she went to Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver, Colorado, where she was introduced to music therapy and adaptive art — which helped strengthen her body as well as heal her mind and soul.
Since that time, she has dedicated herself to finding enlightenment and inspiring others through her art and her music — concurrently navigating her way through UCSB, where she graduated from the College of Creative Studies’ music composition program in 2022 — and creating a headquarters to offer an inclusive space for children with disabilities to express themselves through the arts has been a long time goal, as she explained to me when she gave me a preview tour of the venue in early February.
“I want it to be magical,” said Fisher, who was inspired by “the happiest place on earth” to create her own happy place. “I grew up with Club Disney. That is my inspiration,” she said of the new space, the focus of which is on children and young adults living with a disability, but there are also programs in place for adults living with other conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injuries.
“The arts are such an important avenue for expression and creativity, but for children with disabilities or special needs, access to artistic opportunities can be limited,” said Fisher in a statement. “We are excited to provide a space where children can come together to explore their creativity and build lasting relationships. Our hope is that this inclusive arts clubhouse will be a positive force in the community, promoting understanding, empathy, and inclusion.”
Located at La Cumbre Plaza (Space F, 118, next to the Museum of Sensory and Movement Experiences), the Grace Fisher Foundation Inclusive Arts Clubhouse is a safe and welcoming space for children of all abilities to explore and express themselves through a variety of artistic mediums. Fisher’s vision includes creation stations for art classes, a dance floor, and gallery walls for art exhibits, in addition to quiet areas. There is also a retail space with local artwork for sale — including incredibly vibrant work by Fisher, for which she uses an adaptive method of holding a paintbrush with her teeth — as well as merchandise from the Never Give Up brand by community partner the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation.
The Inclusive Arts Clubhouse’s initial hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The Clubhouse is also available for private parties and event rentals. For more information, as well as programming details, please visit gracefisherfoundation.org/clubhouse.