Over thirty years ago, a vision was cast for a community arts workspace, a space that would vitalize the Santa Barbara arts scene and the city as a whole by providing rehearsal, workshop, gallery and performance space for community arts—a space where people could come together, make and see great work, and spread inspiration. That vision waited thirty years, but today it is starting to become a reality.
The need for a facility like the CAW was first identified by the Regional Arts Master Plan
developed by the City and County three decades ago in the 1980s, and over the years a few dedicated individuals from the Santa Barbara community kept that dream alive despite many obstacles. Then, starting in 2010 a CAW Task Force was created under the umbrella of the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative—a collective of artists and arts supporters committed to sustaining and growing all forms of the arts in Santa Barbara. On April 8, 2014, the City of Santa Barbara signed a lease with the Arts Collaborative for 631 Garden St., the former site of a city motor pool, to create the Community Arts Workshop—two large buildings and four separate spaces for rehearsals, painting, sculpture, gallery shows, annual workshop space for the Santa Barbara Solstice Parade, and more. On September 25, 2018, the City extended the lease for 25 years.
Fundraising is underway and renovations are ongoing. Architect Paul Poirier designed open, flexible spaces that accommodate every creative use. All plans have made it through the permitting process. Ironwork artist David Shelton has painstakingly researched Greek, Roman, and Chumash mythology to create gates that pay homage to Winter and Summer Solstice, and contractor Dan Upton is hard at work renovating the space as funds are raised. Groups like Youth Interactive, Pianos on State, Downtown Santa Barbara, Lit Moon Theatre Company, Santa Barbara High School (VADA), the Pacific Pride Foundation, Lucidity Festival, the Squire Foundation, and many other groups are already using the space that is mostly renovated. There is a groundswell of excitement from organizations as diverse as Opera Santa Barbara, SB Dance Alliance, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the City of Santa Barbara, New Noise, Boxtales Theatre Company, and more. You can see a video of them endorsing the venture here.
You can help make this vision a reality. If you’re an artist or organization interested in renting the space please contact us. If you have ideas on how to make the CAW great we’d love to hear from you.
The CAW cannot be an affordable, accessible space for artists without community support, your support. So please consider donating now.
Work is happening at the CAW. Come be a part of it.
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