New Guard at Solstice

Directors Prize Financial Security, Youth Outreach

Robin Elander and Robby Robbins have taken over the directorial responsibilities of putting on Santa Barbara’s annual Summer Solstice Festival, replacing Claudia Bratton, who ran one of Santa Barbara’s biggest circuses for the past 16 years.

Elander has lived in Santa Barbara four years, running the Open Streets festival for three of them. Robbins — a former multimedia sales manager at The Santa Barbara Independent — jumped into Solstice feet first in 2007, joining the board two years later and serving until 2012.

The first order of business will be to put the festival — now entering its 42nd year — on more solid financial footing. In addition, Robbins said greater attention will be spent reaching out to younger participants and getting them to assemble floats and make costumes at the Solstice Workshop, located this year at the Community Arts Workshop by Garden and Ortega streets.

“Too many people are showing up having made their costumes elsewhere,” said Robbins. “We want them to be part of the whole culture.” When Bratton took over, she had to deal with a small but visible crew of sadomasochistic exhibitionists who used the festival as their venue. She transitioned Solstice into a more family-friendly event and expanded it into a two-and-a-half day celebration.


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