Our EPIC Program, Employing Partners in Community, has served adults with disabilities for over 30 years. Though one of our longest standing programs, even that doesn’t make it immune to some changes now and then. One such change—and perhaps the biggest—came this past summer of 2019 when the entire program moved from what was formerly Camden Community Center in North Minneapolis to Pillsbury House and Theatre (PHT) in South Minneapolis’ Powderhorn neighborhood.

Though physically uprooting an entire program to another location on the opposite side of the city may have seemed a little daunting, being re-located into a bustling community-based arts center has since proved to be a “really good, really awesome” change for the program according to Cheryl, who has been with the program for over 20 years. Noting better access to bus routes, resources like health fairs, and other things, she said:

“I think we have a lot more access to services for sure. We coordinate with a lot of professional residents – theatre people and Upstream Arts. I think it’s a better variety for our clients to interact with more members of the community. They coordinate with the daycare too…It’s been a good change for them. I think they all enjoy being here. I think that this is a better atmosphere for them because we’re not so isolated…There’s just more resources around here.”

Since having moved to Pillsbury House and Theatre, EPIC participants have already been involved in a variety of classes, including exercise, theatre, dance movement, and other art forms. Kari, Director of PHT’s Chicago Avenue Project (CAP), said, “I think it’s been a great way to involve them in the work that the theatre staff does because it is very much in line with other things that are going on in the building.” She recently directed two performances that EPIC participants acted in just this month. Each play was from the CAP archive and ran for about 10 minutes. While most of the participants played on-stage characters, others helped with more technical behind-the-scenes aspects like running sound and the lights.

Savannah, one of the EPIC crew members who had been rehearsing the play for three months, said she learned “how to trust people” through the experience. When asked if she would want to do it again, she replied “yes” and said the overall experience was a happy one because she had never acted before.

EPIC is still recruiting more participants. For more information, contact Vickie at [email protected], or call 612-787-3706.

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