First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal presented a Resolution from the Board of Supervisors stating: “On behalf of the Board of Supervisor’s I congratulate Rod for his decades of work in the Arts and his significant role in the successful establishment of the Marjorie Luke Theatre.”

The Santa Barbara County Arts Commission’s presentation of the 2012 Leadership in the Arts Award will take place at a festive celebration and holiday gathering on December 6th from 6-8pm in the Channing Peake Gallery during 1st Thursday in Downtown Santa Barbara. Chair Barbara Burger will present the award on behalf of the Arts Commission. The Channing Peake Gallery is located on the 1st floor of the County Administration Building at 105 E. Anapamu Street.

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.”

Rod Lathim has been a tireless advocate for access to the arts by people living with disabilities, youth and minorities and has served as an ambassador for the arts encouraging workshops, performance and exhibition opportunities for artists that live and work in Santa Barbara, ensuring the preservation of Santa Barbara’s unique cultural signature.

In 1979, Rod Lathim founded the visionary Access Theatre and developed the company from a grassroots community theater, to a professional, award-winning, international touring company that trained and employed artists who were disabled, able-bodied, blind, sighted, deaf and hearing. For 18 years, Access Theatre served as a national model of accessibility and was honored in 1998, by Stage Directions Magazine as “one of ten theaters nationally who have made a difference”. Rod directed and in many cases co-wrote many of Access Theatre’s 20 original productions including the award-winning international tour and television production of STORM READING that stared Neil Marcus. Rod achieved international acclaim for his work in 1985 when awarded the prestigious Princess Grace Award presented by HSH Prince Albert of Monaco and Frank Sinatra.

As a pioneer of accessible performing arts Lathim served for four years as the President of the National Association for Theatre and Accessibility (ATA) where he assembled and hosted the first national gathering of audio describers through ATA. Rod has since presented workshops and seminars internationally on topics of accessible theatre and the impact of the Americans With Disabilities Act on theatre. The Access Theatre Endowment Fund that Rod established at the Santa Barbara Foundation continues to fund accessible theatre projects throughout Santa Barbara County.

Rod Lathim was instrumental in fundraising and development leading efforts to raise the $4 million efforts to renovate the award winning, historic landmark Marjorie Luke Theatre. He was key in forging a unique public/private partnership with the Santa Barbara School District to create a performing arts venue used by public schools and the community. Since its completion in October of 2003 the Marjorie Luke Theatre has since become one of Santa Barbara’s busiest venues—utilized by over 145 area organizations.

While President of the Board of the Marjorie Luke Theatre Lathim established a Rent Subsidy Program that continues to provide financial support to a wide variety of Santa Barbara performing arts groups. Rod also developed a variety of community-based programs including the highly popular GLEE AT THE LUKE Benefit that featured the cast and producers of the popular television show. He was also instrumental in development of the hugely successful ¡Viva El Arte Series a program that provides free Latino-based cultural performances to thousands of community families through a partnership with UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Rod Lathim has provided decades of invaluable guidance and insight to foundations, nonprofits and area performing arts groups, serving on the Board of Directors of the Lobero Theatre, Center Stage Theater, Marjorie Luke Theatre, Boxtales Theatre Company, and the Santa Barbara Performing Arts League. Over the decades Rod has been recognized by the community for his creative talents in writing, acting, directing, and producing, as well as in the visual arts. Rod has been recognized as a Local Hero on two separate occasions the Santa Barbara Independent.

Rod Lathim, a fifth generation Santa Barbaran, has enhanced Santa Barbara County’s vibrant cultural landscape through his passionate commitment to use the arts to affect social change.

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. Last year Zaveeni Khan-Marcus, received the award for her significant contributions to the community through her work as Director of the UCSB MultiCultrual Center.

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 linked to the California Arts Council through the State and Local Partnership Program. 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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