Watsonville Center for the Arts Ballet Folklorico Ollin dancers
Ballet Folklorico Ollin dancers practice at the Watsonville Center for the Arts. Photo courtesy of Arts Council of Santa Cruz County

The Watsonville Center for the Arts announced its one-year anniversary as a thriving arts and culture hub in downtown Watsonville. This milestone marks the realization of a long-held dream for the local community, providing a dedicated space to nurture cultural arts, provide creative opportunities for youth, and grow Pajaro Valley’s arts and cultural ecosystem.

The establishment of the Watsonville Center for the Arts (WCA) at 375 Main St. was the result of decades of unwavering commitment from various local groups who recognized the need for a space that celebrates and supports the arts. The center is a testament to the tireless efforts of the Watsonville Stewardship Committee for the Arts, composed of artists, educators, political leaders and City staff. Their work resulted in a comprehensive report that advocated for creating a new arts center in downtown Watsonville.

Managed by Arts Council Santa Cruz County, the Watsonville Center for the Arts has become a transformative force in the local arts landscape. 

The 3,400-square-foot building located at the intersection of Main and West Beach streets has become a vibrant rehearsal space for local dance and music groups such as Esperanza del Valle, Estrellas de Esperanza, Activities 4 All, White Hawk Indian Council for Children, Grupo Folklorico los Cocuyos, and others. Additionally, the Watsonville Center for the Arts is home to the Arts Council’s South County offices and Mariposa Arts program, which hires high school students to co-teach after-school arts programs in middle and elementary schools. The center is also reservable for events, classes and meetings.

“As a mother, director of a dance organization, dance teacher and artist in the Watsonville community, I have witnessed the powerful impact the Watsonville Center for the Arts has had on my students and the arts ecosystem in Watsonville,” said Graciela Vega Cendejas, director of Ballet Folklorico Ollin. “Our children, youth and adult dancers gain physical strength and social-emotional development in a community building shared by multiple organizations. My students also develop pride in self by dancing in events that serve the community.”

“The WCA has become a cornerstone for arts and culture and provides access to much-needed space for performing arts groups,” City of Watsonville Parks and Recreation Director Nick Calubaquib said. “This effort has propelled our Watsonville Movement for the Arts over the past year and has been exemplary of the ways that art is key to the cultural, social and economic vitality of a community.” 

To learn more about the Watsonville Center for the Arts and its initiatives, visit watsonvillecenterforthearts.org.

About Arts Council Santa Cruz County

The Arts Council’s mission is to nurture and invest in artists, culture and the arts. Together, we’re building a stronger Santa Cruz County, where all artists have access to the resources they need to thrive; where a full range of creative expression is accessible to everyone; and the arts are recognized for their essential contributions to a healthy, vibrant and representative community.

Through grants to artists and arts organizations, arts education programs that serve more than 20,000 youth across Santa Cruz County, and community initiatives such as Open Studios, the Tannery Arts Center, and the Watsonville Center for the Arts, we help Santa Cruz County thrive. Learn more at artscouncilsc.org.

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