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Towbes Offers $5 Million Matching Granada Grant

To cap the campaign to restore the historic theater, philanthropist developer issues community challenge.

The newly restored Granada Theater opened with great fanfare last month, but the renovation isn’t completely paid for.

In an effort to raise the final $10 million for the $60 million project, developer Michael Towbes and his wife, Anne, are offering a $5 million matching grant to the community.

“It’s time to put an exclamation point on this momentous campaign,” Towbes, a board member and chairman of The Granada’s campaign committee, said in a statement Tuesday.

The deadline for meeting the challenge is December, officials said.

“There is great urgency, as we have only eight months to raise the $5 million matching funds in order to take full advantage of this wonderful gift,” Granada executive director Peter Frisch said in the statement.

Over the years, the 84-year-old theater at 1222 State St. had fallen into disrepair. Before its recent reopening, the stage had last been used for live shows six years ago.

On March 6, after three years of restorative construction, the 1,550-seat theater reopened with a “hard hat show” for construction crews and others who worked on the project. Three days later, the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts —  the nonprofit organization that maintains The Granada — put on a party for the general public inside the eight-story building in which the theater resides.

“When thousands lined up all day to get a glimpse of the theater, you couldn’t help but feel tremendous pride in this community and in how it embraces cultural and historical preservation,” Towbes said.

Part of the final $10 million will be used to create an endowment fund to lure major acts whose prices may exceed the amount that can be generated through ticket sales alone, said Vincent Coronado, The Granada’s marketing director.

“It’s one of the very, very important parts of the campaign which we really, really can’t do without,” he said.

Already, the newly renovated Granada has hosted a variety of shows, from classical music and ballet to the NPR game show Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, to Sunday’s performance of the classic rock band America.

On April 25, it will be the venue for a show on break-dancing called “Break! The Urban Funk Spectacular.”

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