This week, the Independent says a fond farewell to longtime arts editor Charles Donelan, who has taken a position with UCSB Arts & Lectures as a senior writer and publicist. We’re sad to see him go but are deeply grateful for all his years of stellar work. Before he left, Charles penned one last cover story for the paper and answered a few questions about his Indy career.
What’s new or different about this year’s I Madonnari Festival? I Madonnari has new leadership, which you will read about in the article, and it’s part of a bigger picture than people recognize, because it’s the premier public fundraiser for the Children’s Creative Project, which is a large and influential public-private collaboration with the County Department of Education that bring arts education to hundreds of schools and more than 50,000 students all over the Central Coast.
When did you start at the Independent, and who were the big acts at the time? I started in March 2004. The hottest ticket that year was Jack Johnson at the Bowl on Labor Day weekend. He talked about Kim and sang “Banana Pancakes.” My favorite show of that year was a tribute to Gram Parsons, also at the Bowl. Keith Richards was on stage all night backing up every singer.
Tell us one of your favorite anecdotes as arts editor. I used to cover various music festivals such as Coachella, Ultra, and Sea of Dreams. One year, the people behind Bonnaroo and Outside Lands decided to do a festival in Las Vegas on Halloween weekend. It was called Vegoose. A couple of weeks beforehand, one of the promoters called me and offered a very Santa Barbara–specific pitch that I will never forget. He said, “Please tell all the kids who got arrested in Isla Vista last year during Halloween that they should come to Vegoose instead. They can do whatever they want here, no consequences!” I went, and he wasn’t lying.