We found the article with the title “ON the Beat | Big Week, Little City: Five Major Concerts Landed on the Cultural Map of Santa Barbara Last Week,” which was emailed to Independent subscribers on February 2, 2023, objectionable and misleading.

The article’s impact — whether intended or not — is to propagate the notion that the most “important” performances in Santa Barbara are those of the celebrity artists brought in by CAMA and UCSB Arts & Lectures. The article concludes that Santa Barbara audiences, which earlier in the article the writer refers to as “provincial,” are “in good hands” because of two prolific presenting organizations.

Declaring the concerts that took place in Santa Barbara in the week of January 29 a “veritable tsunami of ‘serious’ affairs” implies that the other classical music offerings in Santa Barbara are less “serious.” This implication is reinforced when the article speaks of “a winter’s nap before the calendar energies fill up again.” Presumably that “winter’s nap” includes upcoming performances by the Santa Barbara Symphony and Opera Santa Barbara?

The metaphor is certainly not doing justice to Santa Barbara’s local music scene, and organizations such as the above who create rather than import, support our own creative community, and bring visibility to Santa Barbara — along with the economic and public relations impact that brings.

Santa Barbara’s greatest cultural achievement is that it is the smallest city in the U.S. with its own professional symphony, opera, ballet, and theater companies.

We all agree that there is value in being able to experience great visiting artists from time to time. However, at a time when performing arts organizations across the country are struggling to find their footing after the devastation of the pandemic closures, our arts ecosystems are fragile. When the press promotes the notion that touring celebrities are the most important and everything in between is “a winter’s nap,” it further puts the balance of this ecosystem at risk.

Nir Kabaretti is music and artistic director of the Santa Barbara Symphony, Kostis Protopapas is artistic and general director of Opera Santa Barbara, and Local 308 represents area musicians in the American Federation of Musicians.


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