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7th Annual Arts Symposium

EVENT: 7th Annual Arts Symposium, Friday, April 27, 2012

FROM: Ginny Brush, Executive Director, County Arts Commission,

Santa Barbara Arts Commission Convenes Annual “Town Hall” meeting for the Arts at the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara

While the near future for arts funding nationwide continues to be challenging, there are some success stories and adaptive solutions the Santa Barbara arts community has made in the last several years. Local non-profits large and small have proved to be resilient, creative, imaginative and collaborative as they continue to adapt to decreasing revenue and funding streams. The effects of innovative and collaborative solutions emerging in the arts and cultural nonprofits and regional foundations are gaining traction and momentum.

The County Arts Commission’s upcoming 7th Annual Arts Symposium is set for Friday, April 27th from 8:30am-3pm at the beautiful Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara. The event provides an opportunity for the entire arts community to focus on issues that impact the vitality and future of the Arts for our region. Arts advocates, arts educators and youth advocates, arts administrators, foundations, artists and City and County officials will be among those attending and taking part in a this “Town Hall” meeting for the Arts.

In addition to an opening address by Mayor Helene Schneider, the morning session will be filled with a Keynote Address by Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council, a recitation by Paul Willis City Poet Laureate and an announcement from the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative on new “Enterprise Grants” in areas of Literary, Performing, Visual Arts, and Film & New Media.

Craig Watson is the director of the California Arts Council, a position he has held since August 2011 when the Council selected him after a nationwide search. Watson started his career in the arts field at local arts agencies and arts-services organizations including a stint in the 1980s when he oversaw the development of Santa Barbara County’s first cultural master plan. He also served as the Co-Director for Santa Barbara Arts Services, a program of the Santa Barbara County Office of Education. He later built a career in the telecommunications industry before returning to the arts as Executive Director of the Arts Council for Long Beach. The California Arts Council is the official state arts agency for California, the state with the largest number of artists and creative-industry workers in the nation.

Mr. Watson, whose address will focus on entrepreneurialism and advocacy for arts education stated, “I am delighted to be returning to Santa Barbara where, early in my career, I learned many of my most important lessons in arts development. I look forward to sharing how those and other experiences have shaped my vision for bringing California’s state arts agency back from the brink.”

The afternoon program includes a number of lively breakout groups by topic to provide an opportunity for community dialogue around diverse issues such as: Expanding arts education opportunities; Collectively building public/private and art/business partnerships; and Aligning Arts with social issues.  Other focused breakout groups will focus on empowering artists with resources and tools for building art careers; and visioning for creative/artisan zones in communities.

Much progress has been made since the early Arts’ Symposiums. In 2012 we see progress toward funding sustainability. Through the availability of new grant sources, increased efficiencies of technology and social media, resource sharing, and collaboration of overhead, costs have been reduced, and access to the arts and culture have been expanded to a greater cross section of the community.

“The Arts Commission’s Annual Art Symposium has proven to be a vital tool in unifying a very diverse Arts community. These annual gatherings leverage the collective creative talents of the arts community to confront current arts delivery and funding barriers with innovative new solutions and shared success stories, ” states Ginny Brush, Executive Director of the Arts Commission.

Today finds a diverse group of Performing Arts non-profits benefiting from the synergy of their shared housing at the iconic Arts & Culture Center—thanks to the vision and commitment of the Hutton Foundation. The Performing Arts League (PAL) has re-tooled to become more inclusive of individual performing artists and serves as a broader resource to the greater arts community. PAL has provided a series of informative media and tech support workshops and mixers.

The Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative continues to develop its “virtual infrastructure” expanding its multi-disciplinary membership and online resource for artists across all disciplines. Through volunteer efforts The Collaborative has developed an online artist applications process, an Art in the Mayor’s Office exhibition program, and an Arts Crawl on 1st Thursday organized by Nathan Vonk, current President of the Collaborative. The Collaborative’s Santa Barbara Artists Limited Edition online print sales program generated revenue for Direct-to-Artists grants. The program promotes Santa Barbara area artists with an online presence and also encourages collecting of original art created by Santa Barbara based artists. Many of these ideas and solution were initiated or inspired by last year’s Arts Symposium.

Don’t miss this opportunity to participate and be part of this year’s convening of Santa Barbara’s regional arts and cultural community.  The cost for the 7th Annual Arts Symposium is $25.00 per person, for reservations made by Wednesday, April 23rd.  The cost includes continental breakfast and a boxed lunch in the Canary Hotel, located at 31 W. Carrillo St. at the corner of Chapala St. in Santa Barbara. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. To register, download the registration form at For further information please contact Linda Gardy at805.568.3990 or All checks should be made payable to the SB County Arts Commission, P.O. Box 2369, Santa Barbara, CA 93120.

This year’s Arts Symposium is sponsored in part by the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, and the Canary Hotel.

About the Arts Commission:

Recognized by the California Arts Council as a regional arts agency, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission is committed to advocacy for the arts of our region. The Commission provides technical support, promotes access to the arts through its public art programs, and encourages partnerships and collaborations through a variety of means including its Annual Arts Symposium and Brown Bag Arts lunches. The Commission grants approximately $295,000 in City Arts funding each year through its long-standing partnership with the City of Santa Barbara.

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