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Caren Rager Is New Director at Santa Barbara Center for Performing Arts

Caren Rager Click to view larger
Caren Rager

The Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts (SBCPA) Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Caren Rager as Chrisman executive director and president effective July 1.

Rager succeeds retiring director Craig Springer after his eight years of service to the organization.

The SBCPA and The Granada Theatre said farewell to Springer, who made a valuable contribution to the performing arts in Santa Barbara and beyond. Springer leaves the organization well-positioned to advance the SBCPA’s mission in Santa Barbara County.

“During his tenure as Chrisman executive director and president, Craig helped establish the SBCPA’s central role in supporting the performing arts in Santa Barbara,” said Palmer Jackson, board chairman.

Among Springer’s accomplishments are the creation of the Tessitura Ticketing Consortium on behalf of the Historic Theatre District partners and several of The Granada Theatre’s resident companies; establishing and curating The Granada Theatre Concert Series; launching the Jurkowitz Fellows in Arts Management initiative that offered teenagers with an interest in performing arts a program through which to explore the “business of theater;” and working to establish The Granada Theatre as a cultural and artistic hub for audiences throughout Santa Barbara and its surrounding communities.

“Craig’s achievements have had a positive effect on the many audiences who have walked through The Granada Theatre’s front doors and the many organizations that have graced its stage,” Jackson said.

“On behalf of the SBCPA, we wish Craig the very best as he begins a new chapter in his life,” Jackson said.

“I consider myself privileged to have worked these last eight years with an extraordinarily talented staff, a deeply dedicated board of directors, a wealth of supportive community partners, and an exceptionally generous community of donors," Springer said.

“The Granada Theatre is, in the best tradition of the arts, a truly collaborative endeavor. I am honored to have played my part in this grand venue’s narrative and look forward to seeing its next act take shape under Caren Rager’s leadership.”

Rager joined the SBCPA in 2002 and served as a member of its management team during the theater’s renovation. She became a leading player in the SBCPA’s operational management when the theatre reopened in March 2008.

In her current role as director of administration and finance, Rager manages the organization’s administrative and finance teams, oversees IT functions, as well as Granada Theatre Ticketing Services and SBCPA Tessitura Consortium Services.

The consortium is comprised of eight member institutions: American Film Institute; Community Arts Music Association; The Granada Theatre; Music Academy of the West; Opera Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara Symphony; Theater League; and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

“The board and I feel very fortunate to have Caren as our new executive leader,” Jackson said. “She has been with the organization since the beginning and has demonstrated complete mastery of every aspect of the organization's operations over the past 16 years.”

“Roger and I are very pleased to see Caren appointed as Chrisman executive director,” said Sarah Chrisman, emeritus chair of the board, who, with her husband Roger, endowed the Chrisman executive directorship.

“She is an absolutely solid and talented leader who played a critical role when we renovated The Granada Theatre," Chrisman said. "She will be a tremendous asset in this role and brings to the job all the leadership qualities and experience we are looking for.”

Before moving to Santa Barbara in 1998, Rager owned a national speakers bureau, serving professional associations and corporate clients.

Earlier in her career, she served in administrative and financial underwriting roles for California-based Tarbell Real Estate Corporation, and for golf course and real estate development company Landmark Land Corporation.

Rager began her finance career in commercial banking, holding positions at regional institutions and at Barclays Bank of California.

Rager holds a bachelor of business administration degree and is active in Santa Barbara nonprofit organizations and community roles, having served as director or president on several boards, as well as a commissioner on the city of Santa Barbara's Historic Landmarks Commission.

“I am honored to accept the position of Chrisman executive director and president and appreciate the trust and confidence the board has placed in me,” Rager said.

“I look forward to working closely with the board and the staff on a forward-thinking agenda that will maintain The Granada Theatre as the world-class venue Craig has established, providing both support to our resident companies and excellent programming for our community.”

Springer announced his retirement in March, effective the end of June. He and his wife Kirsten will be returning to Orange County.

— Jennifer Zacharias for the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts.


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