First Grade Students on a Field Trip to the Museum
First Grade Students on a Field Trip to the Museum (Santa Barbara Museum of Art photo)

The annual “Global Day of Giving” is upon us this holiday season and what better way to give back to your community then joining in on #GivingTuesday by donating to the organizations that make Santa Barbara a place we are proud to call home.

Noozhawk is teaming up with local nonprofits to encourage you to take part in this international day of giving, which takes place on November 29th, 2022.

It is no secret that these past couple of years have been full of challenges and thats why local nonprofits need your support now more than ever. Our Good for Santa Barbara Nonprofit Section provides all the resources you need to donate this holiday season!

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Molly Kemper, Annual Fund Manager at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, to learn more about how the nonprofit is dedicated to integrating art into the lives of people.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

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

Answer: The mission of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) is to integrate art into the lives of people. We strive to help the broadest possible audience engage with the world’s great art.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?

A: We recognize that art museums play a constructive role in society and, therefore, we are committed to serving and educating the public, championing a breadth of artistic expression, and enhancing the quality of life in the community.

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

A: Many people think that Museums are funded by local governments or public monies, but the Santa Barbara Museum of Art receives less than 1% of its funding from government grants and no regular tax dollars. Admission, memberships, the Museum store, and the Museum endowment all help, but the primary source of funding is from the generosity of art lovers in our community.

Q: What types of fundraisers and/or programs does your nonprofit run?

A: SBMA offers an incredible variety of programming for art lovers of all ages, interests, and backgrounds, from the fundamentals of art for kindergarteners, to self-guided opportunities to draw or write in the galleries, to lectures, film screenings, and even travel-themed dinner delivery.

2021 Member Open House

2021 Member Open House (Santa Barbara Museum of Art photo)

The most familiar programs involve children and families from throughout Santa Barbara County. There are opportunities for teachers to arrange a free field trip to the museum that could even include an art activity, as well as opportunities for schools to invite SBMA Teaching Artists into the classroom. There is even a virtual art class for students from out of the area. Outside the school day, SBMA offers art programming in partnership with after school programs and other childcare organizations. The Family Resource Center provides space on site at the Museum for families to make art together on Thursday evenings and weekends. The Education Department also offers camps, classes, and trainings at the Ridley-Tree Education Center, an off-site facility run by SBMA.

The Museum also creates a changing selection of programs and events that serve a diverse audience of adults as well. These are designed to complement or enhance the visitors’ experience and contribute to the overall understanding and appreciation of exhibitions on view at the Museum. Offerings include: film screenings, general collection and focus tours, live theatre, music and dance performances, Pop Up Opera, Pop Up Shakespeare, poetry readings, sketching in the galleries, writing in the galleries, art studio classes, books signings, and talks given by artists, scholars, and curators – many of them free with Museum admission.

Q: Describe your organizations staffing models and internal operations. Has anything changed since the start of your nonprofit?

A: Since opening its doors in 1941, SBMA has been the premier cultural institution for visual arts on the Central Coast of California.

In its 80-year history, the museum facility has grown from 12,000 to 60,000 square feet. It includes gallery space, an auditorium (154-seat), an education activities center, a museum store, and a Family Resource Center where museum-goers of all ages participate in hands-on learning. As the only art museum in the region that exhibits a full range of visual art from all over the world, SBMA is a major cultural destination for residents and visitors from around the globe.

SBMA’s acclaimed collection of 25,000 art objects has principal strengths in 19th-century American and European art, Greek and Roman art, Asian art and antiquities, photography, and contemporary art. The Museum presents artwork from SBMA’s permanent collection alongside international exhibitions organized by prominent institutions.

The next major exhibition organized by SBMA will be The Private Universe of James Castle: Drawings from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and James Castle Collection and Archive, opening June 25, 2023.

Q: What makes your nonprofit different from others?

A: Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, SBMA has received the peer-based endorsement of our operations, programs, and community impact since 1973. In addition, for five consecutive years, non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has awarded the Museum a Four-Star rating for the sustainability of our programs and services, our commitment to accountability and transparency, and overall financial health.

SBMA is the primary provider of visual arts education in Santa Barbara County’s public schools. SBMA teaching artists and docents typically interact with 7,000 students annually and inspire more than 100 teachers between off-site outreach, online offerings, and museum-based programs. Furthermore, SBMA offers free open house events and workshops to teachers on using art to teach across the curriculum (mathematics, sciences, and humanities), employing lesson plans, resources, and activities based on the Museum’s permanent collection and special exhibitions.

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

Teachers learning about SBMA activities at the 2022 Educator Open House

Teachers learning about SBMA activities at the 2022 Educator Open House (Santa Barbara Museum of Art photo)

A: Between curatorial, education, and administrative personnel, it takes more than 90 staff members to ensure that the Museum runs smoothly. There are also more than 150 regular volunteers! This is a relatively small number of people, when you consider that more than 20,000 Santa Barbarans receive some form of arts education through the Museum each year.

Q: Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?

A: SBMA worked hard to ensure art was available to people throughout the pandemic. This past summer, we re-introduced in person summer camp and a mother shared:

“It was a rough year for all of us, but particularly difficult for the kids. The minute you walked into the camp after check-in, there was a calm, peaceful atmosphere. Stella was so proud of what she did. There was structure without being rigid, direction while providing independence, education of many art styles and tactile experiences – but primarily it was really creatively therapeutic. I don’t think I realized how much she was needing an experience like this – we know Stella loves art but this really blew us away at how calming and inspiring this camp was for her. Thank you sincerely from our family to you all. We are so grateful for the experience she had and the joy this week of camp brought to her.”

Another community partner was inspired to collaborate after having worked with us as a teenager.

He shared, “When I began working for the SBCHA, the Museum’s commitment to our community and passion to bring art to Santa Barbara inspired me to reach out in hopes of collaborating. They were and continue to be an open, committed, and caring organization. As a student [at Santa Barbara City College], they allowed me to find myself and my culture through art and, thanks to this partnership, I hope to bring that same gift to other individuals in our community.”

SBMA is at its best when it is truly reaching individuals and supporting their connection to art.

Q: How does the work of your nonprofit get communicated to the public?

A: SBMA Members receive a quarterly newsletter that contains information about upcoming activities and exhibitions. We have a strong social media presence and advertise in local press.

Q: Can you tell us one short-term goal AND one long-term goal that your nonprofit has for the next year?

A: The goal at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is for the people who interact with the Museum and its programming to form a connection with art.

Experience has shown that connecting to art reinforces compassion, empathy, and understanding, all qualities that our community can always do with more of.

This year, we hope to retain so many member who returned after the pandemic! We hope you will keep coming back to the Museum to engage with all the many exhibitions we have coming up. And if you aren’t a member join us!

Click here to support Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s mission to serve and educate the public through works of arts.

Check out Noozhawk’s Guide to Giving for a full list of nonprofits to donate to this giving season.