Although the pandemic continues to dictate our comings and goings and has hamstrung our ability to offer in-person cultural gatherings, Santa Barbarans will not be deterred — artists, performers, museums, and musicians continue to invent creative ways to get their works seen and heard. The Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture’s recent offering 805 Inspires! is yet another outlet for our artistically inclined to feed the culturally hungry community.
The seed of 805 Inspires! was proposed by Steve Windhager, executive director of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. “During the height of the COVID-19 infections and restrictions, my museum colleagues and I were seeking a way to continue to give back to our community and bring a bit of our missions into everyone’s home,” he said. “We thought sharing an activity that could be undertaken as a family would be a great way to start.”
Now in full bloom, 805 Inspires! consists of 15-minute videos that highlight the county’s bountiful cultural treasures. The content was culled from the knowledge, expertise, and physical collections of the community’s arts, science, and cultural sectors. Each segment provides information that can be “used by teachers, parents, caregivers, and students who are engaged in remote teaching and learning platforms or homeschooling,” according to the Office of Arts and Culture. “I see this project as a love letter from our cultural institutions to the community,” said Sarah York Rubin, executive director of the County Office of Arts and Culture. “Despite tremendous economic hardship, they continue to serve.”
The 20 museums and cultural institutions that have collaborated on the project are Blue Sky Center; Casa del Herrero; Dunes Center; Elverhøj Museum of History and Art; Ganna Walska Lotusland; Goleta Valley Historical Society / Rancho La Patera & Stow House; Guadalupe Cultural Arts and Education Center; MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation; Santa Barbara Botanic Garden; Santa Barbara Historical Museum; Santa Barbara Maritime Museum; Santa Barbara Mission & Archives; Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center; Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation / El Presidio State Park and Casa de la Guerra; Santa Barbara Zoo; Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum; Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum; UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum; Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art; Wildling Museum of Art and Nature.
Erik Davis, TVSB executive director, is the series host and will interview each organization. “TV Santa Barbara had already begun the pivot towards live streaming, digital training, and virtual video production, so when the pandemic hit, we knew that we were in a good spot to give back to our amazing community,” Davis said. “When the 805 Inspires! idea was floated, we immediately said yes, and the work we have done since then to support our gardens and museums has been truly rewarding.”