Have you Ever Seen a Concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl? If not, Do it!
By Linus Wik
The beautiful Santa Barbara Bowl is located near the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. It boasts an astonishing view and offers a great variety of artists during the summer season from April to November. At the same time, you watch your favorite band and enjoy a cold one, you not only get a great experience, you also support the community. The first artist performing at the Bowl was back in 1936. The venue was built with the main idea to use it as a gathering place and performance venue for the annual Fiesta pageant. Since then, the uses for the facility have drastically changed. There were a few uses and tours in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, but it was not until 1970 that The Bowl started for real. “We have grown from doing approximately 20 concerts per year to doing nearly 40. The facility has been completely renovated and updated to handle modern touring demands,” says Eric Schiflett, a Santa Barbara Bowl program director.
The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation was established in 1991, which took management of the Bowl in 1994 and turned it into a non-profit. It is a highly respected organization which not only entertains the community, but funds and partners with performing arts education for the greater Santa Barbara area.
Music, A Human Right
One of the most important parts of the Bowl’s mission is to ensure that everyone has access to music, whether by listening or playing. The organization strives to create one of the leading outdoor performing arts centers in the country, and through the help of dedicated volunteers, leads the charge of achieving future goals for both individuals and the community. Besides hosting concerts, the Bowl invests in future artists and audiences by supporting performing arts education for youth through their Education Outreach initiative. In addition to live music and the commitment to entertain the Californian community, Shiflett truly has an equal level of passion for the SB Bowl’s Outreach Programs: “We bring 4,000 kids on occasion to the Bowl to see a world-music presentation as part of their schooling. We believe in access to the arts for all citizens, and that a healthy society has a healthy arts element to it.” Education Outreach includes a broad array of programs that provide critical resources for expanding youth access to performing arts, including symposiums, arts advocacy, mentorship, and needs-based financial support for arts education programs.
A Sustainable Vision
The management team is certain of their vision and belief that investing in future artists and audiences will be the way to make sure they grow the wonderful culture of performing arts in Santa Barbara, and will give them the best chance for long-term sustainability. In addition to the work to retain organizational sustainability, The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation has always worked towards environmentally sustainable ways of running the organization and its outreach programs. “We manage 17 acres of land at the Santa Barbara Bowl and, therefore, we consider ourselves stewards of the land, and invest heavily in environmental sustainability.” They have actually come a long way, “We sort all of our own trash and last year we achieved over 93% diversion from landfill for events. We also created a reusable pint program, the first of its kind in the world, with the aim to reduce the number of cups used per concert.” But the goal of being environmentally sustainable does not stop there; “We want to extend this to completely eliminating single use items at all of our shows, concerts, and events, and reach as close to a zero carbon footprint as possible.”
The Goal for the Bowl
The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation offers a range of opportunities for donors to support its Education Outreach programs. In 2016, the goal was to raise $300,000 in gifts and pledges that will contribute to their ultimate vision: A $4 million Education Outreach Endowment. The accomplishment of that vision would provide permanent funding for performing arts education and advocacy in the Santa Barbara County. Despite the level of competition from other nearby arts performing venues in the area, and challenges of always raising the necessary funds to handle capital, they have a positive attitude to the future of the foundation. When asked, “Where do you see the Bowl in 10, and in 20 years from now?” Shiflett answered, “At 1122 N. Milpas.”
About the Author
Linus Wik is born and raised in Sweden. He sees himself as a global citizen and, during his 25 years as the first child of a large family, he has developed a genuine interest in social entrepreneurship. After his BA degree in Liberal Arts and a concentration in Business management & Entrepreneurship from AUSB, he is eager to start his career in the industry where his passion belongs and motivation comes from; the tech industry, within the spirit of business development and market innovation.