MacKenzie Ridgwood was born and raised in Humboldt County, located in rural northern California, and has always been a part of community projects, events, and artistic endeavors- including a few different afterschool and summer programs. Growing up she volunteered with many different organizations including; children’s programming; helping local churches, fellowships, and interfaith centers make food to take to shelters; assisting differently abled people with riding horses; as well as leading events and marches on gun control and climate change.
After highschool she chose to stay in Arcata for a gap year and was offered an internship at The Arcata Playhouse and Playhouse Arts, now the Local Arts Agency. During the internship MacKenzie helped direct Apprentice Entertainment — a teen program focusing on artistic community engagements — was a part of projects such as art installations, assisting in an Artists in Schools program — which brings arts, theatre, and performing arts to local elementary schools — as well as both stage managing and running tech for productions put on at, or by, local theatres. When the internship ended she was offered a job, which was happily accepted! She continued her previous work as well as navigating theatre in a time where live-audience was out of sight, assisting in teaching art classes through online school, and running a then-virtual teen program.
Her work in the local community is multifaceted and has included things such as creating and being a part of a project called the Wonder Wagon, which brings packets of art supplies and activities to different areas in the county, including onto the Native reservations. She is currently teaching in a program called Skue-Yech Son-ee-nah through a partnership between The Playhouse and the Yurok Tribe Wellness Coalition to bring native storytelling, alongside shadow puppetry, to bring awareness to local schools the use of opioids. MacKenzie plans to continue actively working in the community arts sector and with children and whatever else she finds herself interested in and is applying to colleges and universities in the Fall of 2022.
Sponsoring Organization: Rural Youth Caucus