The mission of Makara Center for the Arts is to provide access to arts & culture in Santa Ana through workshops, public performances, and multimedia resources.

Makara Center for the Arts was established in January 2016 by Marytza K. Rubio, a writer born & raised in Santa Ana. Marytza originally envisioned opening up an inclusive space for readers, writers, artists, and other unconventional thinkers in her hometown who may often feel that they don’t fit in elsewhere.

One of the organization’s first initiatives was the monthly Makara Book Club, which has brought together like-minded readers to engage in timely discussions of works such as Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. In November 2016, Makara took an important step by establishing the 50,000th Little Free Library in the world. It is the first of many that Makara will be installing in the city to provide residents with access to free books.

Santa Ana has only one full-service library for over 340,000 residents and the Makara Library aims to help fill a critical gap in services. In addition to serving Santa Ana residents through its Library, Makara is also a creative hub for workshops, performances, and accessible programs that encompass a global view of arts and culture. Reading empowers individuals, and access to knowledge is key to a healthy society.  The Makara Lending Library specializes in books that promote a variety of perspectives, including narratives by people of color, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and other underrepresented groups. Inclusive literature, accessible arts programs, and citizen journalism are top priorities. Makara is committed to providing its neighbors with opportunities to explore their curiosity and expand their imagination. Your support will help Santa Ana embrace its artistic potential and, ultimately, amplify the voice of its residents.


Marytza K. Rubio,  Founder & Executive Director

Marytza K. Rubio is a writer born & raised in Santa Ana. Her fiction and essays have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Slice Magazine, The Rattling Wall, The Normal School, and the anthologies Choose Wisely (Upper Rubber Boot Books) and Exigencies (Darkhouse Press). She runs the daily operations of Makara and continues to write and manage grants for a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness in Orange County. 

A 2008 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, Marytza focused on improving her fiction while gaining experience and knowledge managing a specialized fashion library for the OTIS College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. Scholarships to attend the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and VONA soon followed, giving Marytza the opportunity to fine-tune her stories and explore a wide variety of literary interests and influences. Marytza earned her MFA in Creative Writing: Latin America in 2016. Attending residencies in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago provided opportunities to read unique and unconventional books in Spanish and Portuguese, and engage with innovative styles of music and art, reigniting her vision for a specialized library & art center in her hometown. 

Makara opened its doors in May 2017. The organization upholds the attitude in which it was founded: that reading empowers individuals and imagination is key to a healthy society.  



Hilary Holley, Treasurer

Hilary Holley is a Librarian at Oceanside Public Library, where she contributes to community programming, collection development, and reference services. She also has extensive project management experience in the fields of archives and special collections, library preservation, and nonprofit arts administration. She holds an MLIS from UCLA and a BA in Art History and English from Pitzer College.

Davin Malasarn, Secretary

Davin Malasarn combines a background in biological research and creative writing to advance the arts, science, and technology. He is a lead writer for Development at the California Institute of Technology and previously served as Director of External Affairs at the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization and Senior Writer at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute. He is the recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Chateaubriand Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the PEN Center USA Emerging Voices fellowship.


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Manny Escamilla, Board Member

Manny Escamilla grew up at the McFadden Public Library and Jerome Recreation Center in central Santa Ana. He began working for the Santa Ana Public Library in 2004 as part of the White House Award winning TeenSpace program. In 2014 he was recognized by Library Journal for his work with the Teen Community Historian program to collect, preserve, and share local history. Manny served as a City representative on the Santa Ana Arts & Cultural Master Plan and remains on staff in the City of Santa Ana’s Planning Department. He volunteers as a consultant to local artists incorporating historical themes and site specific considerations across the city. Manny has received a BA in History from UC Berkeley, a Masters in Library & Information Science from UCLA and is currently working on Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. You can also find him working on analog light shows, painting things gold, and spinning metal records. @full_metal_archivist


Lilliam Rivera, Board Member

Lilliam Rivera is the author of the young adult novel, THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ. She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion alumni. Her work has appeared in Tin HouseLos Angeles Times, LatinaUSA Today, Bellevue Literary Review, among others. Lilliam is also the host of Literary Soundtrack, a monthly literary radio show on Past guests have included authors Laila Lalami, Mat Johnson, Victor LaValle, and Sonia Manzano.