The Creative Communities Project is made up of a broad group of leaders in arts and culture from around Santa Barbara County, joined together around a common goal: working together to sustain and grow the cultural vitality of Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Barbara Region is justifiably renowned for the quality, diversity, and depth of its resources in arts and culture. However, there are many concerns:

  • Will the high cost of living drive artists out of the region?

  • How can we ensure that all residents in the county have access to and benefit from the cultural capital of Santa Barbara County?

  • How can we more equitably distribute resources between North and South County, between large established organizations and small grassroots groups, and across the many other divides in our community?

  • How can we give all students equal access to the arts as part of their education – from grade school to life-long learners?

  • How can we ensure long term financial sustainability for arts & culture programs?


​To help address these questions, leaders from a 20-member collaborative of arts and culture organizations developed an ambitious proposal - to assess the impact of arts and culture in our community and develop a countywide cultural plan.  Impressed by the leadership and breadth of the collaboration, the Santa Barbara Foundation funded this multi-year project.  The Creative Communities Project is under the fiscal umbrella of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and run by a Steering Committee representing a broad range of cultural organizations (see list in "About" below: "Creative Community Partner Organizations").

The project has one main goal: Develop a roadmap for the future growth, vitality, and sustainability of Santa Barbara County’s cultural sector.


Phase I: In 2015, having been awarded a multi-year grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation to support the Project's three phases, the CCP conducted a series of interviews with nearly 100 people involved in arts and culture in Santa Barbara. These interviews were used to create a snapshot of the current state of Santa Barbara's arts and culture sector, and a first perspective of what an ideal state for that sector might look like. The Phase 1 report cast a vision for a Santa Barbara in which all of its citizens have what they need to live creative, engaged, vibrant lives. Read more about Phase 1 here.

Phase II: In Phase II we conducted a countywide quantitative survey of residents’ interest in arts & culture, the value they ascribe to creative life, their level of participation, and barriers they perceive form involving themselves more deeply. As far as we know, this is the first reliable survey of this nature in our county. We now have firm evidence
that  that the vast majority of people believe that arts & culture make important contributions to their individual lives and the quality of their respective communities.  The survey data also give us, for the first time, good insights into differences in the arts & culture landscape between north and south county, English and Spanish-speaking residents, people who
have young children vs. others who do not, different age groups, and different income levels, as well as the barriers facing those groups as they seek to participate and create culture in the ways they want to. Read more about Phase 2 here!

Phase III: In this the final phase of the project, a Cultural Arts Plan for Santa Barbara County is being developed in collaboration with other nonprofits and government offices. In doing so, we will foster community-based initiatives to support arts culture, engage in leadership development and coalition building, and develop shared resources and metrics for Santa Barbara County's many cultural organizations.

Funding for this project is provided by generous grants from the Santa Barbara Foundation, The Ann Jackson Family Foundation, and the Mosher Foundation.


The Creative Communities Steering Committee:


Heather Anderson

Principal, Los Berros Visual and Performing Arts Academy 


Mark Booher

Artistic Director, Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA) 

Samuel Duarte

Community Arts Engagement Coordinator,
Guadalupe Little House by the Park 

Elyse Gonzales
Curator of Exhibitions, 

Art, Design, and Architecture Museum, UCSB 

Robin Hampton

Manager, California Alliance for Arts Education 

Debra Hood

North County Liaison/ Communication Strategies Manager, SB County Education Office 

Karl Hutterer
Director Emeritus, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Doug Jenzen
Executive Director, 

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center


Jordan Killebrew

Communications Manager, 

Santa Barbara Foundation

Sharyn Main

Former Senior Director of Community Investments, Santa Barbara Foundation

KM_Headshot 2018.jpeg

Kristen Miller

President & CEO,

Goleta Chamber of Commerce

Stacey Otte-


Executive Director, The Wildling Museum

Hannah Rubalcava

Grants & Contracts Manager, Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture

Sarah York Rubin

Executive Director, Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture

Steven Sharpe

Former General Director, Opera Santa Barbara

Dennis Smitherman

Chair, Santa Barbara County Arts Commission

Gwen Stauffer

Executive Director,

Ganna Walska Lotusland

Rebecca Stebbins

Executive Director,

Carpinteria Arts Center

Nathan Vonk

Owner, Sullivan Goss Gallery

Steve Windhager
Executive Director,

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Casey Caldwell

Creative Communities

 Project Coordinator

Creative Communities Partner Organizations:


Contact Casey Caldwell, Project Coordinator

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Project funded by

the Santa Barbara Foundation