Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 5:39 am | Fair 51º


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Solstice Celebration Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Save This Year’s Festival

Organizers, who hope to raise $200,000, say the Thomas Fire and the Montecito debris flows have hampered donations

Dancers move up State Street during last year’s Solstice Parade in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Dancers move up State Street during last year’s Solstice Parade in Santa Barbara. Organizers have launched a $200,000 fundraising campaign to keep this year’s celebration on track. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice Celebration, a 44-year tradition, is on the brink of major change because of financial woes.

With less than three months left until the big day, festival Executive Director Robin Elander has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise $200,000 in an effort to save the lively celebration in June and to fund the staff who make the event possible.

The biggest reason cited for the fundraiser is the economic impact of the Thomas Fire in December and the Montecito debris flows in January, she said.

"The funds that we usually get have been slow to come due to the recent disasters since a lot of local businesses have been impacted, and a lot that participate are local vendors,” Elander said. “If sufficient funds are not raised, we would have to significantly scale back our operation.

"At this time, we do not plan to cancel it, though we are being proactive to ensure its success.”

Elander said the money donated pays for the festival production and workshop staff, rentals for the equipment, permit fees, insurance, materials for the parade and festival held at Alameda Park, publicity, equipment transportation, and the beer and wine garden.

As of Thursday, nearly $1,400 had been raised for the fund.

The celebration's annual budget averages about $258,000, according to Elander, who has been Solstice’s executive director since 2016.

The city's annual Solstice parade originates at the Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop site, where artists, craftspeople, costume designers and mask makers work side-by-side starting in May to complete their floats and outfits.

“If we are unable to pay staff to help facilitate the Community Arts Workshop where the parade is built, it may be nearly impossible to create the art that people see in the parade,” Elander said. “We need the community's support to make this happen.”

Elander provided a breakdown of the projected expenses on the GoFundMe page. Additional money contributed will allow Solstice organizers to plan the event in 2019, she said. 

“We are in the process of growing our organization to be an international festival,” she said. “Donated funds will help us maintain and produce a great festival this year, and the long-term goal.”

Elander explained that fund revenues for the three-day gathering come from vendor fees from art and food sellers, the parade participant fees ranging from about $15 to $20, and the $45 per person workshop payments.

In addition, the City of Santa Barbara contributes $68,000 to support expenses, Elander said.

“That is not received until usually August,” she said.

Another roadblock Solstice has run into is the uncertainty of tourism-related funds.

“Normally, we bring in a big chunk of our revenue during the festival, but with the recent disasters, there is the uncertainty of tourism in the area,” Elander said. 

Summer Solstice is one of Santa Barbara’s largest festivals, drawing more than 100,000 parade spectators. It’s scheduled to begin on June 22. The parade is slated for June 23 starting at State and Cota streets.

“It’s an incredible community tradition that I am determined to make happen,” Elander said. “This is an effort to invite people to give what they can in advance to ensure we have the funds necessary to put on the programmatic elements.”

Donations can be made online by clicking here.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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