Thousands of local theater goers just experienced the thrill of watching our local “Spring High School Musical Theater Season.” Audiences seemed more enthusiastic than ever to cheer on the efforts of our youthful actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and backstage technicians in productions of West Side Story (at Dos Pueblos), Catch Me If You Can (at San Marcos), and Mathilda (at Santa Barbara High School). Santa Barbara’s public high schools have produced Broadway, TV, film, dance, and recording stars like Martha Graham, Timothy Bottoms, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Howard McGillin, Cady Huffman, Austin McCormick, Eduardo Villa, Dana Costello, Jana McIntyre, Evan Hughes, Geoff Hahn, and dozens of others. Every fall and spring Santa Barbara audiences have the chance to see tomorrow’s stars at very reasonable prices.

And here’s our point. Those reasonably priced tickets don’t begin to cover the costs of our high school’s elaborate productions. Santa Barbara’s famous summer Youth Theater (of the ’60s and ’70s) was fortunate enough to have a major donor/sponsor (Annette Slavin) who basically covered the costs of hiring professionals to work with students and allowing talented young people the opportunity to benefit from production values that matched their formidable talents. Generous patrons do a great job supporting private arts and youth programs, but they have often overlooked an amazing opportunity for the largest scale impact — donations to the theater (and performing arts) departments of our public high schools.

As it stands, in addition to directing students and teaching a full load, teachers in the performing arts must also become professional development (fundraising) directors responsible for raising approximately $50,000 per year, per department, which unfortunately takes time and energy away from the students we serve.

In a town with such resources and love for the arts, we’re hopeful that, you, or someone you might know, would be generous enough to bless our programs with large (tax-deductible) donations. These could be “gifts that keep on giving” for years to come, not only nurturing young talent, but also keeping our performing arts organizations thriving by providing appreciative and educated audiences.

We’re always thrilled to see multimillion-dollar donations to local arts organizations serving youth; we’re also envious. Gifts this size could pay for productions for years to come, giving thousands (not hundreds) of youth life-changing experiences and guaranteeing that public high school performing arts departments can maintain Santa Barbara’s high standard of arts excellence.

You may donate to the Santa Barbara Education Foundation (and earmark your gift for individual or entire school performing arts departments) or email Clark Sayre at Dos Pueblos (, Shannon Saleh at San Marcos (, or Otto Layman at SBHS ( We (and the hundreds of students we serve) would all be most appreciative of any gifts — no matter the size. On behalf of our students and ourselves, we also wish to thank our thousands of audience members who come out to support our public high school (and junior high school) theater productions!


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