Director of MultiCultural Center at UCSB receives 2011 Leadership in the Arts Award

Commission Chair Barbara Burger presented the award on behalf of the Arts Commission to Zaveeni Khan-Marcus for her leadership and extraordinary contributions as Director of the MultiCultural Center at UC Santa Barbara.

Ginny Brush, Executive Director of the Arts Commission stated that “Over the years, the Leadership in Arts award has given the Arts Commission an opportunity to publicly recognize the great achievements realized by exemplary citizens who through their vision, commitment, and dedication continue to infuse our regional arts and culture and increase access to arts in Santa Barbara County.”

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr who will be presenting a Proclamation from the Board of Supervisors at their December 6th meeting in the Santa Barbara County Administration Building at 1:30pm. Supervisor Farr praised Ms. Kahn-Marcus stating “It is truly an honor to recognize her outstanding leadership and commitment to the arts, cultural diversity, and social change. Her contributions have influenced and inspired many individuals on campus and in our community.”

Zaveeni Khan-Marcus

Zaveeni Khan-Marcus has served as the founding director of the MultiCultural Center at University of California Santa Barbara since 1989-overseeing its tremendous growth from a very small center to a widely known and wildly popular center for global arts, culture and dialogue. Guided by the strong belief that the arts are the core ingredient to promote understanding among and between cultures, the Center offers a broad spectrum of events, including music, dance, dramatic performances, lectures, panel discussions, films and videos, poetry and author readings, art exhibits, cultural celebrations and more, which are all open to the general public. Its mission is to provide a safe space to explore social justice issues confronting marginalized groups and individuals and to develop educational, cultural and arts programming to promote changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Under Ms. Khan-Marcus’ leadership the events and programs of the MultiCultural Center, have made distinct and positive changes in attitudes and behaviors on the university campus and has served as a bridge to foster cross-cultural understanding for the entire community. The Center has been recognized as the best of such cultural centers in the University of California system.

Zaveeni Khan-Marcus is truly a “world citizen” and seasoned traveler, visiting, writing, and photographing in Asia, North Africa, Mexico and Europe. A native of Sri Lanka, Zaveeni lived and worked in Varnasi, India, and Cairo, Egypt prior to coming to the US. She is a member of the California Council for Cultural Centers, founding member of the World Music series at UCSB and performs in the UCSB Middle Eastern Ensemble, which is conducted by her husband, Scott Marcus.

“All of us at UC Santa Barbara are so proud and pleased to see our colleague Zaveeni Khan-Marcus honored in such a meaningful way by our community,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “We appreciate her dynamic leadership of our MultiCultural Center and her dedicated efforts over more than two decades to support and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our campus and our community. We join with the County of Santa Barbara and the Arts Commission in warmly congratulating her on this 2011 Leadership in the Arts Award.”

The Leadership in the Arts Award was established in 2006 as an annual award “to honor and recognize individuals or organizations that have made a significant impact on the arts and culture of our region through innovative thinking and exemplary commitment to promoting, sustaining, and advancing our quality of life through the Arts.” Second District Supervisor Susan Rose was the first recipient of the award. Since then the award has gone to Santa Maria artist, arts educator and long-time arts advocate Nat Fast; to Joe and Margie Talaugon, long-time Guadalupe residents for their commitment, community involvement and support for art and cultural activities through the Guadalupe Cultural Arts & Education Center, Mark Whitehurst and Kerry Methner Publisher and Editor of CASA Magazine, and Bill Cirone and Tina Fanucci for their commitment and advocacy for arts education in schools.

The Arts Commission, established in 1977 is a 15-member panel with three representatives appointed by each of the five County District Supervisors. The Commission serves as a regional arts agency for the County and resource linked to the California Arts Council. It also provides arts services to the City of Santa Barbara through a decades-old partnership between the City and County. For more information visit


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