As the City Council learned when planning Paseo Nuevo and studying successful strategies in other communities, carefully curated live music and street performance can measurably increase tourist engagement and contribute to a more vibrant downtown.
However, near as we can tell, our county is one of few in California that has continued to ban all public performances. There appears to be a total ban on all public performances, indoor and out and a poorly defined policy on what enforcement should look like when it comes to performances on State Street, De la Guerra Plaza, the Harbor, the Rose Garden, or Stearns Wharf.
Those who do perform have experienced a range of responses from the Santa Barbara Police Department, ranging from an appreciative “thumbs up” to a citation and everything in between. And while many employment sectors have been allowed to return to work with updated COVID protocols, performance artists of all types are experiencing severe financial impacts stemming from their inability to work, even outdoors. There is no evidence that public performances are causing large groups to congregate or that these performances are unable to be conducted safely.
It is time to take action to retain this important aspect of Santa Barbara’s character and support our arts community.
We respectfully request that the City Manager and the City Council immediately establish an ad hoc committee to develop and propose strict protocols, for review and approval by the Council before many of our local performers are forced to leave or have to face even harsher financial impacts.
1. The committee would work in close collaboration with the City of Santa Barbara (including Paul Casey and Jason Harris), the Santa Barbara County Health Department, the Downtown Organization, the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, the Waterfront Department, State Street retailers and restauranteurs, and the SBPD to delineate clearly defined and health-conscious protocols.
2. The committee would also study and model the proposed policies on the ways in which 3rd Street Promenade (Santa Monica), Pearl Street (Boulder), and Quincy Market in Boston are effectively managing this aspect of cultural life during the pandemic in addition to working with local shop and restaurant owners where applicable.
3. The committee’s proposal would include such components as:
• A modest city permitting fee for approved acts.
• A warning/fine structure for performers who do not adhere to the published policies.
• A limited sound level/DB that Ambassadors could monitor.
• Performer/performance/anti-crowd congregation protocols, as approved by County Health officials.
• Virtual audition of all acts/performers/street artists/for quality and their commitment to the cultural experience they want to create.
The following community members have already volunteered to serve in some capacity
(including the ad hoc committee):
• Kostis Protopapas, Artistic and General Director, Opera Santa Barbara
• Caren K. Rager, Chrisman Executive Director and President of the Granada Theatre
• David Asbell, Executive Director, Lobero Theatre
• Nir Kabaretti, Music and Artistic director, Santa Barbara Symphony
• Moss Jacobs, Senior Vice-President, Goldenvoice Concerts
• Todd Capps, Musician, Executive Director, The Common Table Foundation
• Hal Conklin, Past Mayor, Past Council Member, Founder S.B. Leadership Team
• Robin Elander, Interim Executive Director, Downtown Santa Barbara
• Patrick McElroy, retired City of Santa Barbara Fire Chief
• Nicholas Jurkowski, Executive Director, Santa Barbara Revels
• Kai Tepper, Santa Barbara Bowl, community musician and advocate
• Steve Epstein, musician, degree in technical theater production, live event expert, Board Member, Common Table Foundation
• Jason Frost, professional musician
• Jamie Faletti, musician, former music store owner
• Kathryn R Martin, Next Chapter Coach
• Erin McKibben, Music Director, Santa Barbara Revels, Choral Director, Music Academy of the West’s Sing! Program, and Music Director, Santa Barbara Youth Opera
• Hector Hurtado, musician, stage manager for Fiesta/Solstice
• Roger Perry, booker for July 4th and Fiesta, Leader of the Youth Music Movement
• Maria W. Long, Music Fundraising Events/ Media Representative
In addition to the immediate benefits of clear and reasonable public performance policies, this work could form the foundation for additional arts support post-pandemic that would further enhance the appeal of Santa Barbara as a destination.
We respectfully urge the various government officials to act on this before we start seeing homeless artists and performers. This is becoming dire!