The sixth annual Art Career Day Conference, presented by Art Without Limits, returns Saturday, April 23, 2016, to empower aspiring artists.

The conference, which is free for 13-25 year old artists, will feature over 50 professional artists with a wide scope of talent and experience who will present and lead roundtable discussions.

ACDC was initiated in 2009 to strengthen the skills needed to launch a career in the arts. Attendees of the conference are presented with the possibilities, realities, practicalities, research and promotional connections needed to pursue an art career.

Santa Barbara fortunately has vibrant and productive professionals in its arts community who can be called upon to bolster the next creative generation.

ACDC’s keynote speaker, Luther Gerlach is a renowned photographer who uses a collection of antique cameras and lenses for his work. Gerlach’s list of accomplishments and skills are  extensive:

Gerlach lectures and facilitates workshops on antique and contemporary photographic processes, and he has appeared multiple times in Meet the Artist programs at the Carnegie Museum

His work has been featured in publications including View Camera, American Photographer, Shutterbug and Architectural Digest, and it has been collected and shown internationally and included in corporate and private museum collections including Michael Wilson Center of Photography, Denver Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Prague National Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Minnesota Institute of Art Schack (now Museum of Fine Arts) and LACMA.

Some of Gerlach’s photos are displayed at the White House as a part of the President’s personal art collection.
Award-winning writer, director, artist and photographer Rod Lathim will return as emcee this year. 

Lathim’s cutting-edge vision and drive have enabled him to create and develop programs, arts organizations and landmark cultural facilities.

In 2012 he was honored by the County Board of Supervisors and the Arts Commission with the Leadership in the Arts Award for his significant contributions to arts and culture in Santa Barbara County.

Garrett Blair and Sara Bashor, who founded a theater group in New York and plan to start theater classes and productions in Santa Barbara, will present at ACDC.

Together they “lead youth ensembles of all ages to devise their own theater art. They believe that strong collaborative skills empower youth to become powerful artists and community builders, develop healthy social behaviors and the ability to affect positive conflict resolution.”

Bashor, who has worked with Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, collaborates with playwrights and directors as a performer, producer, dramaturg and critical eye. She has learned how to bring an analytical and inquisitive perspective to the collaborative artistic process.

Blair taught for Kids Creative, a youth theater arts organization that uses collaborative creation as a vehicle for peace education. He led numerous children through the process of creation and production of their own original musical.

He has also designed an original pre-school theater curriculum, Theatrical Learning, that he brought to four schools in New York and New Jersey.

Daniela Zermeno and Christina Sanchez will lead a roundtable discussion on dance.

Zermeno is a professional flamenco dancer, founder of Zermeno Dance Academy and past Spirit of Fiesta.

With over 100 students, Zermeno’s school offers a variety of dance classes including jazz, leaps and turn technique, hip hop, contemporary and it’s specialty: flamenco.  

The studio participates heavily in Santa Barbara’s annual Old Spanish Days Fiesta, as well as public performances, parades and private events.

Sanchez is a professional dancer who received most of her training on scholarship at the Alvin Ailey School and was asked to join Ailey II under the direction of Sylvia Waters.

She was then accepted into the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater under the direction of Judith Jamison. She has also danced with Ballet Hispanico, Buglisi Dance Theatre and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

She currently dances with Santa Barbara Dance Theater out of UC Santa Barbara. 

Over the past five years, hundreds of aspiring artists have attended ACDC. Attendees vary from those with no formal training to those well on their way to establishing themselves as professional artists.

When asked about their favorite parts of the conference, past participants have commented, “ACDC showed me that life is dynamic and that you actually have a choice about what you want to do,” and “I really enjoyed hearing about how people found their way to success first hand.”

To present ACDC, Art Without Limits collaborates with the Santa Barbara Bowl, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, Dug Uyesaka, the Santa Barbara County Education Office, Rod Lathim, the Santa Barbara City College Theatre Arts Department, Santa Barbara High School Visual Arts & Design Academy, Teen Star and many others.

Registration is now open and free for those ages 13-25. For those over the age of 25, a $25 donation is suggested. Register online at

— Art Without Limits is a nonprofit organization that creates intensive, long-term, one-on-one mentorships for aspiring Santa Barbara County artists by pairing them with professional artists to help them succeed in their chosen art form.