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Philanthropist Michael Towbes Turns Birthday Bash Into Benefit

The businessman, turning 80, chooses The Granada as the beneficiary of his July 15 celebration

Local philanthropist and businessman Michael Towbes is turning 80, but instead of gifts and exclusivity, he’s remaining true to his legendary style: taking some of the spotlight off of himself and asking the community to share his milestone birthday at a celebration benefiting one of his favorite projects, The Granada.

The 500-person cocktail party, dinner-dance and fundraiser will be at 6 p.m. July 15 in the Rotunda and Plaza del Sol at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, call Erin Harrison at The Granada at 805.899.3000.

In characteristic manner, Towbes consented to a birthday party only if it would benefit a local nonprofit organization. Through the years, he has been a leading contributor and volunteer for many community capital campaigns supporting the performing arts, education, health, human services and recreation.

He has made it his personal mission to help preserve the historic Granada. For more than 11 years, he has served as a board member of the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts, the organization that operates the remarkable theatrical venue at 1216 State St. that reopened to the public in March 2008.

“Few have improved the quality of life in Santa Barbara as thoroughly, or done more for its vibrant cultural life, than Mike Towbes,” said Peter Frisch, executive director of The Granada. “Current and future generations owe him more than a debt of gratitude.”

Frisch said The Granada is thrilled to be chosen as the beneficiary of the celebration. “Our capital campaign has been very successful, but there is still more to accomplish,” he said.

Anne and Michael Towbes have agreed to match donations received from the birthday bash.

There are a limited number of seats available for the business/cocktail attire event. At $300 each, proceeds from the tickets will begin the fundraising process for The Granada. There also are sponsorship and “special tribute” opportunities.

The evening will include performances by two Music Academy of the West graduates — baritone Eugene Chan and pianist Elizabeth Roe — plus State Street Ballet, the Santa Barbara Choral Society and the Granada Music and Arts Conservatory.

Erin Graffy’s Musical Mischief Productions will present “Michael Towbes: The Musical” — a musical cabaret of parody songs to roast the honoree. The evening will conclude with “dancing under the stars” to the music of Lois Mahalia and the Georgetown Band.

— Jonatha King is a publicist.

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