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Mayor Schneider Receives National Award for Local Arts Leadership

Mayor Schneider accepting the National Award for Local Arts Leadership. Click to view larger
Mayor Schneider accepting the National Award for Local Arts Leadership. (Contributed photo)

The Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, and The U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider with the National Award for Local Arts Leadership at the mayors’ winter meeting in Washington, D.C. Jan. 25, 2016.
The award recognizes the successful creation of a Historic Arts District, collaboration with arts organizations and improved access to arts and culture for youth, the residents, and visitors in public buildings and neighborhoods centers.

Over the past few decades, the city has partnered with community leaders to create and implement a vision for a Historic Arts District downtown, now complete with the renovation of aging performing arts facilities such as the Granada Theatre and Victoria Hall.

The city leased its property to the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative for $1/Year and contributed $300,000 to develop a Community Arts Workshop. A long-expressed need from the arts community for decades, the workshop is now the permanent home for the annual Summer Solstice parade where community artists can create costumes and floats.

Small arts and cultural organizations are supported through an events and festivals grant-making process. Historic festivals such as Old Spanish Days, Summer Solstice and the Film Festival receive annual funding to provide free entertainment to the community, develop new programming and reach the next generation.

“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the City of Santa Barbara’s many creative and groundbreaking community leaders and artists,” remarked Mayor Schneider. “Santa Barbara’s vibrant cultural arts economy and public art programs are a result of many years of ingenuity, planning, strategic investments and people who just get things done. Through partnerships with artists, business leaders and philanthropists, we’ve created a place where residents and visitors alike can create, explore, participate and thrive.”

According to Nathan Vonk, president of the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, “In spite of recent economic downturns, the city has remained committed to its support for cultural nonprofits and cultural tourism and has developed a civic climate that encourages and supports strategic public-private partnerships.”

“Visitor spending generates more than $1.5 billion each year for our regional economy. Santa Barbara’s cultural mix is increasingly part of the attraction that brings visitors here and keeps them coming back,” said Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara.

For more information on the city’s arts activities and programs, visit the city’s website at

Nina Johnson represents the City of Santa Barbara.


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