Responding to increased demand from artists wanting to perform, the operators of the Santa Barbara Bowl are asking for a waiver from Santa Barbara County to host additional events during the 2022 concert season.
The outdoor amphitheater on Santa Barbara’s Eastside is under the auspices of the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, which wants to host up to seven more shows beyond its contracted 37 maximum events this year.
The Bowl’s 2022 concert season began on March 26 with performances from alt-J and Portugal. The Man.
Several shows are lined up through October, with concerts featuring artists such as Lorde, the Smashing Pumpkins, Olivia Rodrigo, Rebelution, the Goo Goo Dolls, and more that can be found on the venue’s schedule.
The venue already has 34 events scheduled — three of which already have occurred — and it typically continues to announce shows throughout the season.
The Bowl’s request is set to be decided on during Tuesday’s county Board of Supervisors meeting.
“Due to early demand by artists and citing lost revenue due to events lost during the pandemic, this year’s Santa Barbara Bowl calendar is currently full with the maximum 37 events,” the item’s board letter reads. “Bowl staff have never experienced such significant interest this early in the concert season.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bowl closed and remained dark for 22 months before reopening in the second half of 2021, when 23 events were held.
The venue has been operating under the management of the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation since 1994, and in the most recent lease agreement from 2011, the Bowl and the county agreed on a maximum of 37 commercial events each year.
The limits were put in place in response to concerns about noise and traffic impacts to the surrounding neighborhood.
The Bowl has only requested a waiver — which was granted — once before, in 2018.
“This is only the second time that a variance has been requested, the last being a request which was granted of four additional events following the Thomas Fire and resulting Montecito Debris Flow,” said Rick Boller, executive director of the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation. “It is essential for our community to be responsive to this additional ‘pent-up demand’ from the artists and to meet the needs of their managers and agents.
“Failure to do so may tarnish the community’s reputation and drive these artists to seek other venues now and in the future.”
The staff report to the supervisors states that positive impacts on the local economy, such as hotels and restaurants, are expected from adding these events, and Boller said that the foundations will also provide more funds for the Bowl’s Outreach program, which supports youth performing arts programs throughout the county.
The Board of Supervisors will consider the request during its meeting starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the board hearing room at the County Administration Building in Santa Barbara.
Community members can also attend the meeting and participate via Zoom, with instructions on how to do so on the meeting’s agenda.