Creative Communities: An Eye Toward an Art Filled Future


Outcome of Creative Community Grants, crosswalk in Lompoc, California

The Santa Barbara Foundation has a long tradition of investing in the arts and culture sector, helping to make it a robust contributor to the region’s economic strength and community vitality. To help accomplish this, two years ago, the Creative Communities Grants were awarded to four projects from around the county that foster interaction and collaboration among arts and culture organizations, business, government and other social sectors, while providing opportunity for emerging and working artists. Grant awards spotlighted place-based activities from a cutting edge culinary arts collective to exciting new cultural exhibits that highlight history and the environment.

With an eye toward the future, the Santa Barbara Foundation also awarded a grant in support of an expansive countywide effort to conduct a ‘total impact’ study and strategic planning process for arts and culture. The goal of the multi-year benchmarking study is to assess the economic and intrinsic value of arts and culture on our community, and to develop a Community Cultural Plan that will help guide arts programming and donor investments for years to come. A steering committee of nearly 30 arts and culture organizations throughout the county, ranging from performing and visual arts to public gardens and museums, was created to help lead this collaborative project. The Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts is serving as the fiscal agent.

The first phase was completed last October producing a report “Building Santa Barbara County’s Creative Capital.” The publication summarized the themes and observations from an extensive series of qualitative interviews and focus groups, the purpose of which was to take stock of the state of the sector and begin the process of defining success.

With the purpose of addressing the report’s major findings, the steering committee has recently expanded and its members are more diverse and representative of all geographic areas in Santa Barbara County. As Senior Director of Community Investments, Sharyn Main has spearheaded the involvement of the Santa Barbara Foundation in this effort. “After years of investment in this field, it is so rewarding to be a part of a dynamic collaboration of organizations working to unite the sector in ways not seen before in developing a long-term vision for the future of arts and culture in Santa Barbara County.”

For inquiries regarding Creative Communities and the Community Cultural Plan, please contact Sharyn Main, Senior Director of Community Investments.

Santa Barbara Foundation | 1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
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