Friday, May 27 , 2016, 8:02 pm | Fair 62º

Granada Theatre’s 90th Anniversary Celebration a Grand Affair

The event features the unveiling of the Towbes Center for the Performing Arts and a new Community Access Ticketing Program

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety |

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

The spirit of the Roaring ‘20s returned to Santa Barbara on Wednesday night with a twist as the Granada Theatre welcomed guests to celebrate the historic 90th anniversary of the venue, which first opened its doors back on April 9, 1924.

Passionate supporters, donors, and founding and current board members along with community leaders and patrons were eager to soak in the majesty of years of effort to reopen the theater and the talented lineup of stars who have performed onstage.

Attendees included VIP guests who gathered in the lobby for a champagne reception honoring these “Brilliant Stars,” a group of visionary supporters and donors who have donated generously to the theater over the years.

A special unveiling of the new permanent naming for the Towbes Center for the Performing Arts honored two of these “Stars,” Anne and Michael Towbes, who recently gave a $5 million irrevocable planned gift toward the future growth of the Santa Barbara Center for Performing Arts endowment, totaling $20 million to date from the Towbeses.

“Anne and I hope to inspire others to think about giving in a way which supports and sustains the Granada Theatre and the Santa Barbara arts and cultural community for generations to come,” Michael Towbes said.

The Towbeses, along with the devoted group of supporters and community donors, have helped make the theater a world-class performing arts venue that enhances the quality of life on the Central Coast.

“Michael and Anne’s support of the performing arts in our community is legendary and a great example for us all,” said Sarah Chrisman, president of the board of the SBCPA. “We are blessed by their generosity.”

Following the reception, a private dinner was served in the Founder’s Room, where guests enjoyed an intimate atmosphere before joining patrons in the theater for a show by Broadway smash The Midtown Men.

The Midtown Men performed a range of 1960s hits with songs from The Beatles, The Rascals and more, adding to the eclectic mix of the night and reinforcing the long and storied history of the Granada.

During dinner, Opera Santa Barbara board chairwoman Joan Rutkowski acknowledged the group of "Brilliant Stars" and locals whose efforts accomplished the goal of reopening the venue and provided support to the community to accomplish the goal.

“We must always remember that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail," she said. "That caring counts. That where there is no vision, things perish. That hope and dreams count, and that without charity, there can be nothing good. That by daring to live with new ideas and outrageous goals, we are learning to live generously. And that by believing in the inherent goodness of man, we may meet the call of the arts in Santa Barbara and stride forward into the future with growing confidence.”

Local artist Mara Abboud created special-edition commemorative posters, and the limited run of 500 posters was quickly snapped up with all proceeds from the poster benefiting the Granada.

Also launching at the 90th anniversary performance was the new Community Access Ticketing Program offered through the Jurkowitz Center for Community Engagement to provide access to community members who are currently unable to attend Granada Theatre performances due to financial constraints.

The special evening with the Midtown Men started the new ticketing program with 100 community access tickets provided by local nonprofit partners to deserving community members.

The historic theater's mission is to serve as a vibrant venue that promotes the arts and enhances quality of life in the community, with more than 100,000 people attending performances in 2012.

Over the past few years, the community has enjoyed internationally famous soloists, orchestras, operas, dancers, esteemed guest speakers and more.

The theater does not receive ongoing support from local or state government and covers only half of its annual budget through ticket sales and other earned income. Giving opportunities for this awe-inspiring facility includes the Visionarios, Luminarios and Alhambra society, as well as Patron and Ovation Circles. Click here for more information.

Upcoming shows at the Granada include the Beethoven Seven on April 12-13, The Consul on April 25-27 and The Philip Glass Ensemble on April 30. Tickets are available through the box office by calling 805.899.2222 or by clicking here.

Michael Towbes shared with Noozhawk what this treasured community asset means to all Santa Barbara residents and the feeling of pride that the venue gives to patrons and performers alike.

“Before the Granada, we just had nothing like this for performing arts groups," he said, "and it means so much to the community and to all the resident companies who are here because this is their home and that was really important that we create a first-class home for them.”

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.