We’ve Got This, Santa Barbara
Celesta M. Billeci, UCSB Arts & Lectures’ Miller McCune Executive Director, is on her 12th Zoom call of the day. It is 2 pm.
Despite scrambling to ensure the community had access to Arts & Lectures while COVID-19 steamrolled its 2020 season, Billeci is upbeat, bullish on 2021 and her institution’s place in the community.
Quoting the late U.S. Representative John Lewis, she says: “We must be headlights and not taillights.”
“We promise to be headlights for the community,” she says. “We promise to innovate, not hibernate.”
During lockdowns, this has meant moving lectures and performances that would be typically scattered at stages across Santa Barbara online – a practice Billeci and her team will keep on doing. “That we can bring people from all over the world to Santa Barbara is fantastic.”
Looking forward to 2021, Arts & Lectures has already lined up a diverse slate of performers and thinkers – Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Bryan Stevenson, chef José Andrés, opera diva Joyce DiDonato, David Sedaris, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Jon Batiste and many more – to “entertain, educate, inspire.”
“Each of those elements has its own urgency these days,” Billeci says. “We desperately need to be awestruck, amused, and entertained.”
Arts & Lectures is so much more than what happens on stage. Contributors and friends of the organization enjoy special access to these global thinkers and world-class performers in informal chats, dinners and private sessions. And Arts & Lectures’ massive education and community engagement programs serve all ages and learning levels, from school-age children to college students to parents and families, to seniors. Billeci points to Wynton Marsalis and Yo-Yo Ma who always give a master class to students that is also open and free to the public – transformational experierences.
“I joke with Yo-Yo, that I like his master classes better than his performances,” Billeci quips.
Arts & Lectures serves more than 110,000 each year with its over 300 public events and education programs – including 15,000 community members who enjoy the Spanish-language music and dance programs of ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! This community-driven program provides performances and educational activities throughout Santa Barbara County, including agricultural communities of north county.
For Billeci, who loves Santa Barbara for its residents’ intellectual curiousity and willingness to be challenged, the Herculean effort of entertaining, educating, and inspiring the community is a matter of pride and responsibility.
“We connect this community and the community needs us,” she says. “We did not create this community, but we are vital to making sure it is vibrant and alive.”
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Senior Director of Development & Special Initiatives: Stacy Cullison
To educate, entertain and inspire.
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Enriching Program at Santa Barbara’s Doorstep
Arts & Lectures brings our community, the University, and its students an incredible array of artistic offerings that are unequaled in any other community of our size in this country. A&L always manages to present the kind of material that appeals to thousands – I don’t know how they do it! Their robust education outreach, presented to both English- and Spanish-speaking audiences, enriches younger students immeasurably. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a varied and stellar program right here on our doorsteps!
Sustain Cultural Excellence in Santa Barbara
Arts & Lectures remains a beacon of hope in Santa Barbara, connecting art and education to the community. But they are still struggling with the impact of COVID-19 on their programs. Your support will allow Arts & Lectures to continue to play a pivotal role in the vibrancy of our community.
“Access for ALL is Arts & Lectures’ suite of education and community programs, making inspirational, enriching, and dynamic learning opportunities possible for classrooms, campus, and the community,” says Celesta M. Billeci, UCSB Arts & Lectures Miller McCune Executive Director.
Arts & Lectures hosts field trips for local K-12 students to see the most notable artists and thinkers of our time and also offers substantial discounts (and often even free admission) to students, as well as opportunities to learn from some of today’s hottest musicians, renowned dancers, revered authors, and more.
Over the past few seasons, A&L has reached nearly 450,000 people and with your help they can offer life-changing opportunities and continue to transform the community.
Advisory council members and leaders who have helped make A&L
a vibrant part of Santa Barbara:
Jody & John Arnhold
Marci & John Mike Cohen
Audrey & Timothy O. Fisher
Connie Frank & Evan Thompson
Luci & Rich Janssen
Dorothy Largay & Wayne Rosing
Kath Lavidge & Ed McKinley
Patty & John MacFarlane
Sara Miller McCune
Jillian & Pete Muller
Natalie Orfalea & Lou Buglioli
Heather & Tom Sturgess
Anne Smith Towbes
Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin
Bridget Yin & Russell Steiner
Merryl Snow Zegar & Charles Zegar