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Define Success

In 2014, a group of leaders within Santa Barbara County’s cultural sector came together to discuss the health and future sustainability of the sector.​ The Committee commissioned WolfBrown, a non-profit consultant group, to survey stakeholders and craft recommendations for a plan for the cultural vitality of Santa Barbara. 


For several months WolfBrown and volunteers from the Creative Communities Committee conducted 71 qualitative interviews with stakeholders in arts and culture throughout Santa Barbara county, including artists, leaders of nonprofits, educators, leaders in the business and social sectors, and government officials. They also conducted 4 focus groups with art teachers, young adults, North county Latino residents, and seniors. 


The results of these interviews, and a draft plan of action, were compiled into a report released in November of 2015. Read the full report.

The interviews presented a snapshot of the current state of Santa Barbara County's cultural sector, finding, for example, that "Santa Barbara is rich in culture and beauty" but that "access and resources are not distributed equitably" and "geographic and political boundaries create significant disconnects between communities and cities." Read more about the current state of the cultural sector.

The interviews, and Wolfbrown's experience and expertise, were used to craft seven pillars to build Santa Barbara's "creative capital." ​These pillars were then condensed into three goals:

A Creative Capital Framework for

Santa Barbara:

Three Goals

1.  Creatively engaged people and neighborhoods

  • There is broad public access to diverse and relevant forms of cultural expression.

  • Children and adults have strong creative learning and development opportunities.

  • Santa Barbarans are connected by supportive networks for creativity.

  • Visible signs of creativity stand out throughout the county.

  • Families engaged in generative activities at home and in the community.

  • Cultural traditions representing the County’s diverse populations are sustained and nurtured.

  • There is a continuous flow of good information on programs and opportunities, so that the community can access what is offered.

  • Public demand for the creative work of local cultural practitioners grows.

2.  A strong pool of cultural practitioners, and a sustainable infrastructure of cultural institutions

  • Santa Barbara is enriched by active, culturally competent leadership capable of strategic thinking at the community level.

  • Leaders have opportunities to learn and grow, and draw on best practices.

  • Cultural practitioners can find suitable and affordable spaces to live and work, and a diverse stock of venues that serves a broad cross-section of the public

  • Cultural institutions have reliable funding support.

  • A spirit of trust and cooperation connects Santa Barbara County’s cultural institutions with each other and more artists are able to access networks of supportive peers and collaborators.

  • Leaders are drawn from diverse communities across the county, bridging the North/South County divide.

  • Santa Barbara’s cultural practitioners produce and present relevant programming that engages the community in all its diversity.​

3.  Supportive public sector policies and goals

  • Public policies attract creative people and businesses and drive cultural tourism.

  • Santa Barbara’s regulatory environment encourages arts and cultural development.

  • Public funding strategies ensure the sustainability of cultural assets.

  • The public has a favorable perception of Santa Barbara County as a cultural hub, and understands the value of the arts.

The next phase of the work, then, is to identify specific barriers that prevent the Santa Barbara cultural sector from achieving its full potential, and that must be overcome to accomplish the three goals. This, and the data-gathering needed to do so, is the work of Phase II of the project. Read more about Phase II.

Three Goals, Phase 1

For Further Reading

Above photos: The Summer Film Series at the Santa Barbara Courthouse (Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture) and a celebrant at the Santa Barbara Solstice Parade (Photo credit: David Powdrell).

Project funded by

the Santa Barbara Foundation


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