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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 2:18 pm | Fair 67º


Judy Foreman: The Gallery Montecito Opens Doors for Arts Mentorship Program

Nonprofit steps in to provide vital scholarships for 2,500 young performing artists in Santa Barbara

From left, The Gallery Montecito manager and curator Cia Nervo, dancer Sarah Block and Arts Mentorship Program board president Pamela Dillman Haskell. Click to view larger
From left, The Gallery Montecito manager and curator Cia Nervo, dancer Sarah Block and Arts Mentorship Program board president Pamela Dillman Haskell. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo via iPhone)

I don’t remember exactly when Thursday nights became the new Friday nights for kicking back and winding down the workweek, but the Thursday action on Coast Village Road and in downtown Santa Barbara leaves no doubt that people are starting their weekends early.

Santa Barbara’s arts community has embraced the Thursday night phenomenon in a big way. 1st Thursday, sponsored by Downtown Santa Barbara, has successfully wooed art lovers and wine drinkers to meandering tours of local art galleries.

On a recent Thursday evening, The Gallery Montecito was holding an opening night event that was creating a buzz of its own with a new show dedicated to the art of dance. A portion of the proceeds went to the nonprofit Arts Mentorship Program.

Located at 1277 Coast Village Road since 2015, The Gallery Montecito is a collaborative enterprise between three friends: Marjorie Layden, well known for her extensive collections of Asian art and antiquities; actress Linda Evans of Dynasty and The Big Valley fame; and artist Gary Craig. Evans and Layden were on hand for the event.

“The mission of the gallery ... is to merge artistic works with philanthropic endeavors and create nonprofit events that join artists and patrons of the arts to benefit charities,” The Gallery Montecito curator and manager Cia Nervo told Noozhawk.

Also present to greet the attendees were Montecito’s Pamela Dillman Haskell, Arts Mentorship Program board president, and Alana Tillim, who co-founded the Arts Mentorship program with Steven Lovelace in 2004.

Each year, the Arts Mentorship Program directly serves more than 2,500 low-income and at-risk youth and emerging artists. The intent is to provide training, education, mentorship and financial assistance to local young performing artists who may not otherwise have had the opportunity.

Flanking Arts Mentorship Program board president Pamela Dillman Haskell are The Gallery Montecito co-owners Marjorie Layden, left, and Linda Evans. Click to view larger
Flanking Arts Mentorship Program board president Pamela Dillman Haskell are The Gallery Montecito co-owners Marjorie Layden, left, and Linda Evans. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo via iPhone)

The program partners with Santa Barbara Dance Arts, which donates staff, time, in-kind services and affordable space.

“The Arts Mentorship Program is special because it considers the story behind the performer,” Dillman Haskell told me. “Being an artist is so much more than just dance or music; it’s a healthy expression of building physical and emotional confidence.

“AMP creates opportunities for growth, and access to a state-of-the-art studio and performance space.”

In a crisply produced video, The Gallery Montecito guests heard how AMP works. More than $25,000 in scholarships are awarded each year, with special attention paid to personal mentorship.

Together with Santa Barbara Dance Arts, the collaboration is able to reach more than 8,000 youths annually through three core programs: scholarship, rent subsidy and student dance companies.

Testimonials were heard from several young women from Santa Barbara Junior High School who would not have been able to participate without the financial support.

“The studio becomes their safe place and second home, and also gives them a place to belong,” Dillman Haskell explained.

Sculptor Al McCurdy. Click to view larger
Sculptor Al McCurdy. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo via iPhone)

“They have scholarship dancers participating in this program and it is giving them unprecedented access to the world of fine art and renowned choreographers, and it turns their dreams into a viable career path.”

There was not a dry eye in the gallery.

The guests freely mingled with the artists, which also included two Teen Dance Star finalists: Sarah Block and 2016 winner Frankie Harman.

Delectable food was provided by Lucky’s Steakhouse, which also donated the use of its patio. Layden donated a 2009 Pinot Noir from her winery, Turner Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills.

Artist Annie Salter designed a one-of-a-kind dance show pendant, which can be special ordered. Other artwork at the show included paintings and photography by Dalva Duarte, Robert Stivers, Kathee Miller, David Bazemore, Patricia Houghton Clarke, Gary Craig, Tynan Daniels and sculptor Al McCurdy.

Click here for more information about the Arts Mentorship Program. Click here to make an online donation.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Alana Tillim, co-founder of the Arts Mentorship Program and Santa Barbara Dance Arts Click to view larger
Alana Tillim, co-founder of the Arts Mentorship Program and Santa Barbara Dance Arts (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo via iPhone)

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