Construction projects are notorious for being over budget, which is a scenario Santa Barbara Dance Arts and its nonprofit arm recently ran into with work at the new Performing Arts Center on the city’s Lower Eastside.
Less common, however, is when a generous benefactor volunteers to pay the difference to keep the community organization open.
Santa Barbara native and real estate investor David Beaver did just that.
Beaver owns the former vacant warehouse at 531 E. Cota St. that Santa Barbara Dance Arts has called home since January. He told Noozhawk he paid the 20-percent construction overbid, modestly not offering the exact donation amount.
His donations to Dance Arts easily total more than $200,000 since the beginning, according to Dana Wallock, director of development for the nonprofit Arts Mentorship Program, which has partnered with Dance Arts for 10 of the business’ 17 years in existence.
“The important thing is, ‘Hey, they’re open, they’re running and it’s a beautiful new space,’” Beaver said. “One of the major things that everybody is excited about with this new building is it’s right in the center of town. The other major thing about this is the community is short of this kind of essential studio space for dancing, acting, whatever.
“I’m glad that my creaky old warehouse has become something so cool.”
Beaver bought the 9,000 square-foot building two years ago from friends in the Hayward family, and was glad to find a tenant that wouldn’t require a lot of on-site parking.
The Performing Arts Center’s 400 students are now within easy walking distance of Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High schools, Girls Incorporated of Greater Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club and more.
The center had been located just seven blocks away at 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, which included a not-so desirable walk through an industrial part of town, Wallock said.
Its new location has five full studios — a sixth is rented out — and a retail store and café for students, who are between the ages of 4 and 18 and enroll in some of the 80 weekly classes in jazz, hip hop, contemporary, ballet, aerial and more.
The Arts Mentorship Program has its own mentorship program, a scholarship program for students and an ongoing capital campaign.
Wallock said she’s especially excited to expand AMP’s Rent Subsidy Program, which allows small, emerging performance groups to affordably rent rehearsal and performance.
She said more rehearsal hours are available, especially in the mornings and before school ends.
“This, in my mind, is a huge benefit to this new space,” she said. “There’s so much demand.”
Wallock said so much is planned for the future of the center, which has a 10-year lease, thanks in large part to Beaver’s generosity.