One Thing in Santa Barbara: Arts


From food and nightlife to the environment and philanthropy, what were the most important stories and trends of the year in Santa Barbara? Five of our sharpest local observers weigh in on the one thing that shaped 2015.

According to Charles Donelan, arts editor at the Santa Barbara Independent, the biggest arts event of the year was on August 3, when the New York Philharmonic orchestra played a sold out show at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

Four thousand of the 4,500 audience members paid only $10 for a ticket.

“It really changed the composition of the audience,” said Donelan. “You saw all the familiar faces, but then you saw people from community who were just enjoying a beautiful night at the Bowl, at a price that basically everybody can afford.”

New York Philharmonic 2015 Santa Barbara Residency, 8/3/15. Photo by Chris Lee
Photo: Chris Lee

The concert was presented by the Music Academy of the West, who entered a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic with financial support by Linda and Michael Keston and the John C. Bowen and Shelby C. Bowen Foundation.

“Collaboration is the ruling trend right now, especially in the performing arts. We’ve seen all kinds of interesting things happening when organizations begin working together,” said Donelan. For example, this year the Santa Barbara Symphony, State Street Ballet and the Santa Barbara Choral Society came together to perform “Carmina Burana” at the Granada Theater in October.

For Donelan, the partnership between the Music Academy and the New York Philharmonic, however, is a step above that.

“This one represents a recognition that really puts Santa Barbara on the international stage,” he said. “It indicates that we might be able to be not just an important stop on the international music scene, but an actual center for a new way of looking at the international music scene.”

Since the partnership began, it has created pathways between the two cities. Students from the Music Academy can attend a winter fellowship program in New York, and New York musicians spend several weeks in Santa Barbara during the summer to prepare for the show.

In 2016 and 2017, Donelan expects return performances at the Bowl, and potentially a joint show with musicians from both organizations, with performances in both Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

New York Philharmonic 2015 Santa Barbara Residency, 8/3/15. Photo by Chris Lee
Photo: Chris Lee

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