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Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop Named Citizen of the Year For 2015

The Downtown Santa Barbara organization gave the 2015 Citizen of the Year Award to the Community Arts Workshop at ceremony on Thursday.

The Community Arts Workshop might not technically be an individual citizen, but the organization’s “leadership, passion and tireless efforts … to fight for and make a real place for local non-profit arts organizations to create, craft and collaborate” has merited the CAW being named by the Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara as its 2015 Citizen of the Year.

The language of the award goes on to celebrate the CAW for working together to make arts and culture part of the fabric of Downtown Santa Barbara.

The Community Arts Workshop is the fulfillment of a vision cast over 30 years ago in Santa Barbara’s Regional Arts Master Plan, which called for a multi-use arts center with rehearsal, training, workshop, gallery and performance space for community arts groups and individuals.

That vision could not be realized for decades, but a sustained core of individuals refused to let the idea die. The vision was finally taken over by the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, a collective of artists and arts supporters committed to sustaining and growing all forms of the arts in Santa Barbara.

Two representatives of the Arts Collaborative, Rod Hare and Leon Olson, received the award Thursday morning on behalf of the CAW.

The Community Arts Workshop is coming to life three blocks off State Street on a quiet corner of Garden and Ortega streets at 631 Garden St. There, two brick industrial buildings are being transformed into four separate spaces for rehearsals, painting, sculpture, gallery shows, and more.

Since the lease was signed in April of 2014, architectural plans for open, flexible spaces have been made, all plans have made it through the permitting process, and the southern of the CAW’s two buildings has been refurbished with paint, insulation, drywall, a new roof and doors.

The floors of the North Building have been refinished; and ironwork artist David Shelton has designed and begun work on two remarkable ironwork gates.

Much work remains to be done, but such is the demand for a space like the CAW that even in its partially-renovated state it has been used by groups as diverse as Youth Interactive for a public mural project, Pianos on State for their annual festival, Santa Barbara Revels as costume-making space, and the Downtown Organization itself as float building space for the holiday parade.

The list of users continues to grow, and starting in May it will again be used by the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration, as a new permanent home for the festival’s work.

Roderick Hare, co-founder and board member at the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, called the award a “wonderful surprise.” It was to his knowledge unprecedented for a group of people, not just an individual, to be named citizen of the year.

“It’s a special kind of recognition acknowledging that the Community Arts Workshop is becoming an integral member of this community.”

“Our mission begins with the arts and extends way beyond that,” said Hare. The Arts Collaborative hopes the CAW will be a space that brings the whole community together and fosters collaboration, creativity, and inspiration in all realms.

The award comes at an ideal time for the CAW, as it is in the midst of organizing a capital campaign to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the CAW and make sure it has what it needs to sustain the project into the future.

The Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative hopes that this wonderful recognition by the Downtown Organization will serve as a catalyst for Santa Barbarans to support the vision of the CAW as a space for innovation, artistic excellence, collaboration, and community.

Donations to support the CAW can be at sbcaw.org/donate. More information on the CAW is available at sbcaw.org and facebook.com/sbcaw.

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