Arts Editor Asks for Help

The ‘Indy’ Needs Your Support

Michelle Drown | Credit: Paul Wellman

The Santa Barbara Independent changed the trajectory of my career. After majoring in history at UCSB, I was planning to go on to graduate school when I got an arts internship at the Independent. I never looked back.

After my internship, I was hired as a proofreader and arts writer. I covered rock shows, interviewed artists, reviewed films — it was thrilling, challenging, and I loved it. Though I went on to work at other publications in the Bay Area, my stint at the Independent always remained my most influential and revered experience.

It was there that I discovered the importance of local newspapers. How passionate, curious, dogged reporters bring to life all the corners of a community — from keeping tabs on governmental machinations to reporting on the state of education, introducing artists to readers, and letting folks know where to go for their next great meal.

When done right, a newspaper is the heart, soul, and watchdog of a community. It’s a role that has never been taken lightly at the Independent. I say that assuredly, as I’ve worked for several media publications during my career; in my experience, the Indy is the only one to consider its commitment to the community sacrosanct.

When I came back to town 17 years ago, I landed one of the best jobs of my career. As Senior Editor/Arts Editor at the Independent, I was able to explore the rich world of artists and their work. Santa Barbara is bursting at the seams with creativity — a seemingly endless variety of theater, dance, art, films, and music being created all around us.

But the pandemic brought our vibrant arts and entertainment culture to a screeching halt. Performances have been canceled, movie theaters are closed, and music venues sit empty. Considering the arts bring in an estimated $200 million a year to our county, it’s a heavy toll being paid. Musicians, artists, actors and everyone working in the arts, including the clubs, theaters, and venues, are suffering. 

The Independent has also been kneecapped by COVID-19. Reporters are more comfortable telling other people’s stories. However, current circumstances require me to tell ours. Like so many others, the Independent is struggling financially. To continue producing the high-quality product the Independent always strives for, it takes dedicated, tireless work. And we need your help.

There are several ways you can contribute. You can support a local business through the Adopt-A-Shop program, benefiting a local business or nonprofit and the Indy. Or you can subscribe online to Indy+, where $30 a year allows you full access to our website, where many stories run that never see print. Or you can make a tax-deductible donation through SBCAN to support environmental and social-justice journalism. You can also give directly to the paper; no amount is too small.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read this letter — and the paper.

Michelle Drown
Senior Editor/Arts Editor

How to Give

  1. Give a one-time or recurring credit card contribution at
  2. Sign up for an annual digital subscription for $29.99 through our Indy+ service at
  3. Make a tax-deductible donation, to support environmental and social-justice journalism, of $100 or more by sending checks payable to SBCAN (memo: Journalism Fund) mailed to: 

PO Box 6174
Santa Maria, CA 93456

Or at

Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose Tax ID is 73-1676916.

Subscriptions or contributions made directly to the Santa Barbara Independent are not tax-deductible. We can accept checks mailed to 12 E. Figueroa St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.


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