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In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Marianne Clark, Administrative Director at Lobero Theatre Foundation to learn more about how the nonprofit is dedicated to presenting the highest quality productions in music, dance and theatre to the community.
Lobero Theatre Foundation
Question: What is the name & mission of your nonprofit?
Answer: The mission of the Lobero Theatre Foundation is to operate and maintain the historic Lobero Theatre as a performing arts center and cultural asset to the community, and to present the highest quality productions in music, dance and theatre.
Q: How long has your nonprofit been in service and whom was it started by?
A: Though the theater was built in 1873, the Lobero Theatre Foundation was established in 1938 to serve as steward of this community gem.
Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?
A: The Lobero was originally built in 1873 by Guiseppe “José” Lobero in order to give Santa Barbara the grand opera house he believed it deserved. In 1924, it was rebuilt by the Community Arts Organization to continue to serve Santa Barbara’s performing arts.
Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?
A: 60% of the Lobero’s income is earned through rentals and ticket sales. The remainder is funded through the generosity of Santa Barbara’s many individual philanthropists and foundations. Supporting our local arts community is a major priority.
To this end, we are seeking endowment funds to ensure that subsidy funds are available in perpetuity for local youth and community arts organizations.
Q: In what ways does your nonprofit utilize its funding?
A: The Lobero serves Santa Barbara through a variety of programming:
- Lobero LIVE brings outstanding artists to the Lobero stage for our audiences
- The John C. Mithun Foundation Community Access Fund provides subsidies for local arts organizations seeking to perform on the Lobero stage
- The Lobero’s Youth & Community Outreach programs bring students to the Lobero stage, sends artists into classrooms, and welcomes children, families and seniors to attend performances throughout the year
- The Lobero Theatre Foundation also works continually to improve the theatre’s technical systems and infrastructure to ensure it remains usable, accessible and comfortable for the tens of thousands of artists and patrons who walk through its doors.
Q: Describe your organizations staffing models and internal operations. Has anything changed since the start of your nonprofit?
A: In 150 years, the Lobero has gone through innumerable changes and seen it all. We maintain a lean but committed staff who are experienced and professional, but remain enthusiastic about the theater and its work. Staff work closely with the Board of Directors to keep the community at the forefront of our decision-making process and ensure that all of our work is mission-driven.
Q: How do people get involved/volunteer for your nonprofit?
A: The Lobero has 20 volunteer Board members, 50 Lobero Theatre Associates (our women’s auxiliary group) and more than 100 volunteer ushers. More volunteers always welcome!
Q: What makes your nonprofit different from others?
A: The Lobero is unique in its size (604 seats), its programming and its longevity. The people at the heart of this organization are passionate about the arts, about our history, and about the future of this amazing resource.
Q: What is one best kept secret or fun fact about your nonprofit that not everyone knows?
A: Most people don’t remember that until 1996, the Lobero Theatre was owned by the County of Santa Barbara!
It was deeded to the Lobero Theatre Foundation after a major seismic renovation in the early 90s. Since that time the Foundation has been hard at work ensuring that the building and its systems are state-of-the-art, and that the auditorium is as comfortable and welcoming as possible.
Our next job is to raise a significant endowment to make sure the theater is here to serve Santa Barbara for another 150 years.
Q: Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?
A: We met a Santa Barbara High School senior during the Derek Douget Jazz Residency in 2018. He played trumpet in the jazz band and expressed an interest in pursuing music seriously. Music, he said, was the only reason he was still in school. Our resident artists took a real interest in this student’s passion and skill, and invited him and several other students to perform with them on stage at the Lobero later in the week.
They also invited him to play with them at the New Orleans Jazz Festival the following year. He couldn’t make that trip, and the band worried they wouldn’t see him again. But in 2019, they ran into this talented young musician playing with the SBCC Jazz Band and made sure to exchange contact information so they could follow his progress.
In 2021 we were delighted to learn that he was at USC on a full-ride music scholarship.
Q: How does the work of your nonprofit get communicated to the public?
Click here to support Lobero Theatre Foundation’s mission to operate and maintain the historic Lobero Theatre as a performing arts center and cultural asset to the community.
Check out Noozhawk’s Guide to Giving for a full list of nonprofits to donate to this giving season.