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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 5:18 pm | Fair 61º

Good for Santa Barbara 2018: Noozhawk's 3rd Annual report on Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust
Nonprofit Q&A

Solvang Theaterfest Brings Live Art to Local Community

An enthusiastic audience roared its approval when inde rock singer/songwriter Mat Kearney took to the Solvang Festival Theater stage in October 2018. Click to view larger
An enthusiastic audience roared its approval when inde rock singer/songwriter Mat Kearney took to the Solvang Festival Theater stage in October 2018. (Solvang Theaterfest Photo)

Holiday season is upon us, and the spirit of giving is alive! What better way to give back to your community than participating in this years #GivingTuesday by donating to local organizations in Santa Barbara.

In this interview, Noozhawk sat down with Mary Ann Norbom, Executive Director at Solvang Theaterfest, to learn more about how the nonprofit supports and promotes live performing arts. 

Solvang Theaterfest

Question: What is the name & mission of your nonprofit?

Answer: Solvang Theaterfest is a 501 (C) (3) organization that owns, maintains, and operates Solvang Festival Theater with the mission of supporting and promoting live performing arts.

Q: How long has your nonprofit been in service and whom was it started by?

A: The theater was built in 1974 by the local business community and community volunteers.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?

A: Solvang Festival Theater was built for the express purpose of bringing the acclaimed theatrical company, PCPA, to Solvang.

Q: Why is your mission important to you?

A: For nearly 45 years, this 700-seat outdoor theater has made the Santa Ynez Valley and all of Santa Barbara County a richer place to live. It offers professional theater from PCPA, country, rock and jazz concerts, an epic Halloween Haunted House, and an affordable venue for other nonprofit organizations to stage their own fundraising events.

Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?

A: Solvang Festival Theater is funded by donations from private individuals, grants from regional foundations, theater rental fees, PCPA ticket fees, and concession sales. Capital improvements represent our greatest needs.

Q: In what ways does your nonprofit utilize it's funding?

A: Maintaining a 45-year-old outdoor facility at a level that is safe and comfortable for artists, staff and audience members is an ongoing funding challenge. Additionally, there are essential overhead costs for insurance, utilities, and a very small dedicated staff. The need for funding is ongoing and constant.

Q: What is one best kept secret or fun fact about your nonprofit that not everyone knows?

A: The best kept secret about Solvang Festival Theater is that you can rent the lobby lawn and Patron Garden for private events, even weddings!

Q: Can you tell us one success story from your nonprofit?

A: Forty-five continuous seasons of PCPA summer productions have been hosted without interruption in an outdoor theater the community built in just 58 days.

Q: What is the biggest obstacle your nonprofit has faced or currently faces and how did you overcome it?

A: The biggest obstacle Solvang Festival Theater currently faces is age. Our 44-year-old facility is up against structural deterioration, accessibility issues, technical challenges, and competing downtown Solvang noise. Plans for future renovations will address and overcome all these obstacles.

Q: How has your nonprofit transformed since you first began?

A: Built specifically to be the summer home of PCPA, Solvang Festival Theater has become the primary live performing arts venue of the Santa Ynez Valley, and continues to grow with exciting new programming. In addition to four PCPA productions and numerous concerts, 2018 featured an extraordinary multimedia show from NASA and a film premiere with panel discussion.

Click here to make a donation to Solvang Theaterfest.


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