A Cultural Gift to the Community

By Giving List Staff   |   October 29, 2021
Rhiannon Giddens (photo: Ebru Yildiz)

If you had told Celesta M. Billeci, UCSB Arts & Lectures’ Miller McCune Executive Director, in March of 2020 that within a couple of months the organization’s 63-year-old program would be redefined by racial justice, she may not have believed you. Then came the murder of George Floyd, casting the issue of systemic racism and its underlying causes squarely into the global discourse.

In a matter of weeks, UCSB Arts & Lectures did what it does best: it recognized the gravity of the moment and mobilized leading thinkers, activists, and creatives for a season-long series called Race to Justice, which explored race, racism, its impacts on American society, and solutions for advancing racial equality. Race to Justice featured the likes of historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson, and was transformative for A&L, reaching viewers worldwide when most of the organization’s programming moved off-stage and online due to the pandemic.

The success of Race to Justice embraced every word of the Arts & Lectures mission: “To educate, entertain, and inspire.” As Billeci says, “That’s what we do. We believe in educating and entertaining everybody, but we also believe in inspiring the community and Creating Hope, which is the theme for our 2021-22 season. I cannot define how people will be changed or touched because everybody has a very personal experience. But I do guarantee you will be changed or touched when you come to an Arts & Lectures event.”

Race to Justice reinforces the versatility of UCSB Arts & Lectures to create a well-rounded program of 200 annual events that is simultaneously timeless and timely while offering something for everyone. This season, A&L launches a new Soul of America series celebrating the best of America’s jazz, bluegrass, and other homegrown musical marvels. The program also expands its scope to look at injustices in a broader context with its Justice for All series, bringing an even wider range of public policy makers, courageous changemakers, thoughtful writers, and groundbreaking artists to Santa Barbara theaters. 

2021-2022 is already packed with a mix of provocative programming, including a lecture by renowned journalists and human rights activists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the return of Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, and the groundbreaking Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

During the performance season, you can count on nearly four events each week of world-class arts, music, dance, and educational programming, but as Billeci says, “It is worth your time, and it is worth investing in this program because it is a phenomenal gift to the community. We have something for everyone.”


UCSB Arts & Lectures

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(805) 893-3755
Senior Director of Development & Special Initiatives: Stacy Cullison


To educate, entertain and inspire.

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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

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!
– Sara Miller McCune

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.

Key Supporters

Advisory council members and leaders who have helped make A&L
a vibrant part of Santa Barbara:
Jody & John Arnhold
Loren Booth
Marcy Carsey
Marci & John Mike Cohen
Audrey & Timothy O. Fisher
Connie Frank & Evan Thompson
Martha Gabbert
Eva Haller
Luci & Rich Janssen
Dorothy Largay & Wayne Rosing
Kath Lavidge & Ed McKinley
Patty & John MacFarlane
Manitou Fund
Sara Miller McCune
Jillian & Pete Muller
Natalie Orfalea & Lou Buglioli
Maxine Prisyon
Heather & Tom Sturgess
Anne Smith Towbes
Sherry Villanueva
Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin
Bridget Yin & Russell Steiner
Merryl Snow Zegar & Charles Zegar