Santa Barbara City College experienced a banner weekend April 13-15 for celebrating the arts. Our newest piece of public art, “Not Yet Full,” is on display adjacent to the SBCC Humanities Building. The sculpture was created by our highly talented faculty member Ed Inks and was commissioned by long-term SBCC art patrons Dr. Vincent and Lies Jaccarino.
At the nearby Atkinson Gallery, the winners of the annual juried Student Art Show were announced with 55 awards/scholarships given. Through donations, I was able to purchase several student works of art to add to the college’s permanent art collection. Members of the community also purchased many of the students’ art pieces.
The long-awaited reopening of the drama/music complex and the Garvin Theatre was held with performances, receptions and open houses/tours for friends of the college, the campus community and the community-at-large. This modernization, which was accomplished largely through Measure V construction bond funds, has created a state-of-the-art performing arts venue second to none in our community.
With the drama/music construction completed, we are now in the first stages of closing the Humanities Building, where the Atkinson Gallery, and art and other programs are housed, for extensive remodeling. The completion of this newest construction project, which also will be funded through Measure V construction bond dollars, will further enhance the building’s functional and esthetic capabilities to provide students with high-quality programs.
Why Invest in the Arts?
At a time of diminished resources and when jobs in the arts can be difficult to find, why is SBCC choosing to invest in the arts? There are four primary reasons to support arts education.
» 1. Putting the STE(A)M in STEM.
A major focus of federal, state, local and foundation efforts is to increase the number of college students who pursue majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). While the skills taught in each of these disciplines are essential, employers are saying these skills alone are not sufficient for highly qualified employees. Additional qualities needed by all college students, including STEM majors, are more fully developed through the study of the arts.
These skills include creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, adaptability, organization, detail oriented, time management, and one all too familiar with those in the fine and performing arts, acceptance of disappointment and ability to bounce back quickly. Students who possess these qualities will have the right combination of skills for the highly trained workforce this country needs in order to stay competitive in the 21st-century global marketplace. The arts (A) may put the STE(A)M in STEM disciplines.
» 2. Fostering Creativity and Innovation.
“The U.S. has held the reputation for producing highly imaginative and innovative minds in the creative as well as scientific and high-tech industries. In a global economy where innovation drives prosperity, the U.S. faces increasing competition from around the world in maintaining its competitiveness. Recent studies documenting the steady decline from 1990-2000 in American student and adult scores on a test of creative thinking are casting doubt that we will continue to do so” (Newsweek, 2010). The arts-music, creative writing, drawing, dance, acting and technical theater provide skills sought by employers.
» 3. Contributing to the Community Vitality.
The fine arts and performing arts are an important contributor to local, state and national economies. People choose to live in and travel to communities that have a vibrant arts component such as art museums and galleries, theaters and musical venues. At SBCC, our outstanding of arts programs helps prepare the talent pool who will have contributed — and will continue to do so — to the cultural vibrancy of the many communities to which our graduates may move.
In Santa Barbara County, our collective arts programs rival those of much larger metropolitan areas. Recent research indicates that the nonprofit arts and culture are a more than $77 million industry in Santa Barbara County, employing more than 2,200 full-time equivalent jobs and generating more than $7.5 million in local and state government revenue. The impact of the arts is significant, not only to our quality of life, but to our economic well-being as well.
» 4. Serving as a Cultural Hub.
SBCC prides itself on our reputation as a cultural hub for the fine and performing arts in our community. We provide our students and the community with high-quality theatrical and music performances, outstanding art exhibits and public art at no charge or a minimal cost. The richness of the arts’ experience will enhance the educational quality we provide our students and nurture the talent of students who are studying the arts. Increasing students’ knowledge and appreciation of the arts also will help build future audiences, who in turn will continue to support these ventures.
Return on Investment
In this information age, a well-rounded curriculum is not a luxury but a necessity. Arts education is an ideal complement to all fields of study. The local community has a long-standing history of supporting the arts at SBCC by attending student performances and art exhibits and contributing funds to the Foundation for SBCC. Your investment in the education of our students will return substantial dividends to the students and to the cultural and economic vitality of our community.
— Dr. Jack Friedlander is SBCC’s acting superintendent/president.