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.
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.