Members of the Santa Barbara City Council played Santa Claus on Monday, dispensing $8.5 million in Redevelopment Agency funds to organizations large and small. The 800-pound gorilla in the proceedings was the Granada Theatre, whose politically connected backers walked away with the largest commitment of $1.5 million. Although this was $1 million less than requested, councilmembers – who’d already given the Granada restoration effort $3 million – opted to spread the wealth. One million dollars went to develop a joint public media production facility and rehearsal space in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. The Ensemble Theatre was awarded $1.25 million to fix its current digs at the Alhecama Theatre; Arts Alive! – an arts instruction and performance facility on the industrial lower Eastside – netted $8,900; and the Santa Barbara Historical Society received $100,000 to build climate-controlled facilities in which to store documents

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