Art from The Arc: Disabled artists from Alachua will sell jewelry and paintings at the expo

Supporting Art Saturday means supporting an underfunded group of Alachua residents.

The Arc of Alachua County, a nonprofit organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), will hold its first arts and crafts expo on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Arc, located at 3303 NW 83rd St., administers day programs and operates group homes for approximately 107 people with IDD. All proceeds from the sale will go to the artists.

Twenty artists will have booths at the expo. A mixture of paintings, jewelry and desserts will be presented. The UF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and Grow Hub — an incubator that employs people with disabilities — will also be there.

The Arc is funded by Medicaid waivers and donations from the public. The money is used to staff and provide food for the 16 group homes they sponsor in Gainesville, said Shanna Wilson, human resources administrator at The Arc.

But getting that money is sometimes difficult in Florida.

Florida is ranked low in public funding for people with IDD. In 2017, Florida had the second smallest gear – $1.97 – funds for IDD services per $1,000 of statewide income, placing just above Nevada.

“This funding enables people with IDD to receive services,” Wilson said. “But it also allows us to pay the people who work for them. [a] living wage,” she said.

Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, states saw an average of $2,606 increase to these service funds. The Arc recently received an increase in Medicaid funds for the first time in a long time, Wilson said.

Wilson, 31, and day program activities director Cloretta Daniels, 42, began planning the exhibit in April, giving the artists several months to create their pieces, she said.

People with DID are able to work on their own, Daniels said, but they sometimes need accommodations.

“Now everything is going so fast,” she said. “And it’s just not our people.”

Daniels hopes the expo will not only provide more resources to the Gainesville IDD community, she said, but will change preconceptions about the community.

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“We just have to slow the pace down,” Daniels said. “Instead of trying to get our people to adapt to us, we have to adapt to them.”

Shyree Wimberly, a 32-year-old medical transcription junior from Santa Fe College, will sell about 20 bracelets and beaded jewelry on Saturday — but it won’t be the first time she’s been paid for her craft. She has been making bracelets for two years and selling them on Facebook and Instagram.

Wimberly has a physical disability that prevents him from walking. She moved into a group home when she was 18.

“They help me cook,” she says. “They help me with everything medical – transportation,” she said.

Wimberly signed up for a booth at the show in July after an Arc nurse told her about it. She is excited to meet new people and gain more clients, she said.

The exhibit will illustrate the work people with DID can do, Wilson said, and they need support right now.

“They are often overlooked for basic roles in the community,” she said. “They have similar needs to us – similar desires, hopes and dreams.”

Contact Lauren at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @LaurenBrensel

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Lauren Brensel

Lauren Brensel is a sophomore journalism major and writer for The Avenue. She is also a staff writer for Her Campus UFL and The GEN-ZiNE. In her spare time, she can often be found creating Spotify playlists and reminding those around her that she made this song on Glee.

Dora W. Clawson