Yo-Yo Ma teaches a master class with a UCSB music student
Yo-Yo Ma teaches a master class with a UCSB music student (UCSB Arts & Lectures 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 Elise Erb, Director of Development at UCSB Arts & Lectures, to learn more about how the nonprofit is dedicated to promoting the performing arts in our community.

UCSB Arts & Lectures

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

Answer: UCSB Arts & Lectures is a driving force in the national arts presenting scene. A&L’s mission is to promote the performing arts and elevate the human spirit, inspire the imagination, foster personal discovery, and sustain an inclusive and diverse community.

Each year, A&L presents a diverse selection of over 100 events per year to thousands of patrons with a world-class roster of performing artists & thought leaders who represent various genres at their highest quality including Joshua Bell, Malala Yousafzai, Trevor Noah, Annie Leibovitz, Audra McDonald, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Q: How long has your nonprofit been in service and whom was it started by?

A: Arts & Lectures was established in 1959 and has become one of the premier University-based performing arts and lectures programs in the United States.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?

A: UCSB Arts & Lectures is committed to keeping Santa Barbara a culturally vibrant place and creating a community that champions thoughtful dialogue.

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake at The Granada Theatre.

February 25 and 26, 2023 at The Granada Theatre choreographer Angelin Preljocaj reinvents Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake with new arrangements.  (UCSB Arts & Lectures photo)

The constant interaction with UC Santa Barbara faculty and students gives A&L’s programs substance and energy, from which the larger community benefits year in and year out. We look forward to sharing with you important discourse, unforgettable performances, and the spirit of community.

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

A: UCSB Arts & Lectures is primarily funded through ticket sales and individual, corporate and foundation donations. Philanthropic support from our Santa Barbara community is imperative so that we are able to present high-quality, timely conversations with leaders in the arts, sciences, and politics as well as presentations by the world’s best artistic talents.

A&L is proud to offer solely in-person programming this season so our community can gather and experience the joy of live performances and lectures. Philanthropic support helps provide a stable and flexible source of annual income for A&L.

Q:  How do people get involved/volunteer for your organization?

A: As a non-profit organization we are filled with hope for what is to come and for the ways that Arts & Lectures can continue to educate, entertain and inspire, and it all begins with you! A&L thrives on philanthropic support through community membership.

Our largest and most accessible membership level is our Producers Circle – a group of dedicated, actively-engaged people whose contributions make Arts & Lectures possible. Membership helps underwrite world-class programming and supports A&L’s extensive education programs. Producers Circle members have the opportunity to engage behind the scenes with A&L and our featured artists and speakers

Q: In what ways does your nonprofit utilize its funding?

A: UCSB Arts and Lectures is the largest arts presenting organization between Los Angeles and San Francisco, presenting over 100 public performances, lectures, and film screenings each year to the Santa Barbara community. Thousands of patrons can discover fresh series, commissioned works, ambitious projects, exciting new faces, and familiar friends. The world-class lineup of dance, music, and speakers includes such recognizable guests as Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Nina Totenberg, Mark Morris Dance Group, Pink Martini, and more.

In addition to the public events, A&L also commissions new works; hosts meaningful artist’s residencies that serve 30,000 students and families each year on campus and in K-12 classrooms; and creates various strategic community collaborations with local partners that promote the values of artistic excellence, diversity and accessibility for communities across the County.

Q: What makes your nonprofit different from others?

A: UCSB Arts & Lectures is the premiere area arts organization housed on a University campus. As an organization, Arts & Lectures aims not only to entertain audiences, but also to educate and inspire.

This season, A&L continues our Justice for All programming initiative, which highlights the need for deeper conversations about equity across a variety of social justice and diversity issues. 

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, most recently presented by Arts & Lectures in May 2021

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, most recently presented by Arts & Lectures in May 2021 (UCSB Arts & Lectures photo)

Through our Thematic Learning Initiative we extend the conversation from the stage into the community, inspiring lifelong learning opportunities that initiate change and empower audience members and participants. Featuring community-wide book giveaways, free events and discussions around this season’s theme of Leadership and Vision, your participation can leave a lasting impact on our community.

UCSB Arts and Lectures’ educational engagement programs provide internationally recognized artists and speakers as educators to K-12 students, university students, and our local community of lifelong learners. When these talented individuals enter the lives of students, they bring a unique opportunity to relate academics to current events and artistic trends from the world stage. UCSB Arts and Lectures engagement programs provide free educational activities to students with partnerships on campus, in schools, and in the community through:

  • Assemblies in elementary and secondary schools
  • After-school workshops and conversations with youth
  • Assemblies for incarcerated youth
  • Meet-the-artist sessions on and off-campus
  • Panel discussions with artists and University scholars
  • Lectures and demonstrations in University classes
  • Technique classes for students of all ages
  • Coaching for advanced students
  • Social events and meetings with student groups and classes
  • Post-show Q&A sessions with audiences of all ages 
  • No-cost tickets to public events for students, their families and teachers
  • Free family performances in underserved neighborhoods

A vibrant cultural arts environment contributes to the well-being of any community. Arts & Lectures takes pride in being a leader as the largest and most influential arts and lectures organization between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A&L’s programming encourages the community to gather and experience the joy of live performances or lectures, and to be exposed to new ideas and artists. 

As the largest presenting institution on California’s Central Coast, A&L is the main resource for artistically significant cultural events in the region.

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

A: France’s acclaimed Ballet Preljocaj. You won’t want to miss this brand new version of Swan Lake at the Granada Theatre. Join us for the performance of a lifetime February 25th & February 26th!

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

A: UCSB Arts and Lectures uses an integrated communications model to reach diverse audiences by leveraging all available media- including print, radio, direct mail, email, social media, and digital displays. A&L creates various strategic community collaborations with local partners across the County and with various UCSB campus venues and programs. 

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

A: Operating under the 22-year leadership of Celesta M. Billeci, the Miller McCune Executive Director, A&L has remained focused on its mission to Educate, Entertain and Inspire. Through its high-quality mainstage events, supplemental educational activities for K-12 and UCSB students, and broader community engagement programs more than 30,000 people each year are impacted by A&L’s efforts.

This goal is contingent on our ability to present premier performers and lecturers. A&L aims to highlight a breadth of topics each season. This ranges from our Thematic Learning Initiatives for this year – leadership and vision, to our popular Speaking with Pico series, which brings thoughtful insight from authors and humanitarians through the exceptional interviewing skills of Pico Iyer, to an expansive celebration of music and dance with diverse performers such as Kyiv’s DakhaBrakha, Soweto Gospel Choir, Wynton Marsalis, Ballet Preljocaj and Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Company.

Click here to support UCSB Arts & Lectures mission to educate, entertain and inspire through promoting the performing arts.

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