The Santa Barbara Museum of Art ensures future generations are inspired by art – Noozhawk | Team Cansler

Posted on November 14, 2022
| 6:00 p.m

With the annual Global Day of Giving fast approaching this holiday season, what better way to give back to your community than to participate in #GivingTuesday by donating to the organizations that make Santa Barbara a place that we can proudly call home.

Noozhawk is partnering with local nonprofits to encourage you to participate in this International Day of Giving, taking place on November 29, 2022.

It’s no secret that the last few years have been full of challenges and that’s why local non-profit organizations need your support now more than ever. Our Good for Santa Barbara nonprofit section has all the resources you need to start giving this holiday season!

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke to Molly Kemper, Annual Fund Manager at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, to learn more about the nonprofit’s commitment to integrating art into people’s lives.

Santa Barbara Art Museum

Question: What is the name and mission of your nonprofit organization?

Answers: The mission of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) is to integrate art into people’s lives. We strive to help as wide an audience as possible engage with the great art of the world.

Q: What was the inspiration for your nonprofit organization?

A: We recognize that art museums play a constructive role in society, and as such we are committed to serving and educating the public, advocating for a breadth of artistic expression, and improving the quality of life in the community.

Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your biggest needs?

A: Many people think that museums are funded by local government or public money, but the Santa Barbara Museum of Art receives less than 1% of its funding from state grants and not regular tax money. Admission, memberships, the museum shop, and the museum endowment all help, but the main source of funding comes from the generosity of the art lovers in our community.

Q: What types of fundraisers and/or programs does your nonprofit conduct?

A: SBMA offers an incredible variety of programs for art lovers of all ages, interests and backgrounds, from art basics for preschoolers, to self-paced drawing or writing opportunities in the galleries, to lectures, film screenings and even travel. Theme dinner delivery.


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Open House 2021 (Santa Barbara Museum of Art Photo)

The most popular programs involve children and families from across Santa Barbara County. There are opportunities for teachers to organize a free field trip to the museum that might even include an art activity, as well as opportunities for schools to invite SBMA teaching artists into class. There’s even a virtual art class for out-of-town students. Outside of the school day, SBMA offers arts programs in partnership with after-school programs and other child care organizations. The Family Resource Center provides on-site museum space for families to make art together on Thursday nights and weekends. The Education Department also offers camps, courses and training at the Ridley-Tree Education Center, an outside facility operated by SBMA.

The museum also creates a rotating menu of programs and events that also appeal to a diverse adult audience. These are intended to complement or enhance the visitor’s experience and to contribute to the overall understanding and appreciation of the exhibitions presented in the museum. Offerings include: film screenings, general collection and focus tours, live theatre, music and dance performances, pop-up opera, pop-up Shakespeare, poetry readings, sketching in the galleries, writing in the galleries, art studio classes, book signings and Lectures given by artists, scientists and curators – many of them free with museum admission.

Q: Describe the personnel models and internal processes of your company. Has anything changed since you started your nonprofit organization?

A: Since opening its doors in 1941, SBMA has been the premier cultural visual arts institution on the Central Coast of California.

In its 80-year history, the museum facility has grown from 12,000 to 60,000 square feet. It includes gallery spaces, an auditorium (154 seats), an educational activities center, a museum shop, and a family resource center where museum visitors of all ages participate in hands-on learning. As the only art museum in the region displaying a full range of fine art from around the world, SBMA is a major cultural destination for residents and visitors from around the world.

The SBMA’s acclaimed collection of 25,000 objects of art has major strengths in 19th-century American and European art, Greek and Roman art, Asian art and antiquities, photography and contemporary art. The museum presents artworks from the SBMA’s permanent collection alongside international exhibitions organized by prominent institutions.

The next major exhibition to be organized by SBMA is The Private Universe of James Castle: Drawings from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and James Castle Collection and Archive, which opens on June 25, 2023.

Q: What makes your nonprofit organization different from others?

A: Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, SBMA has received peer-based validation of our activities, programs, and community impact since 1973. In addition, nonprofit reviewer Charity Navigator has awarded the museum a four-star rating for the sustainability of our programs and services, our commitment to accountability and transparency, and overall financial health for five consecutive years.

SBMA is the primary provider of fine arts education to Santa Barbara County public schools. SBMA instructional artists and faculty typically interact with 7,000 students annually and inspire more than 100 teachers between off-site contacts, online offerings and museum-based programs. In addition, SBMA offers teachers free open house events and workshops on using arts throughout the curriculum (math, science, and humanities), using lesson plans, resources, and activities based on the museum’s permanent collection and special exhibits.

Q: What’s a best-kept secret or fun fact about your nonprofit that not everyone knows?

Educators learn about SBMA activities at Educator Open House 2022
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Educators learn about SBMA activities at the 2022 Educator Open House (Santa Barbara Museum of Art photo)

A: Between curators, educators, and administrative staff, it takes more than 90 people to ensure the museum runs smoothly. There are also more than 150 regular volunteers! This is a relatively small number of people considering that more than 20,000 Santa Barbara residents receive some form of art education through the museum each year.

Q: Can you share a story or two about people whose lives have been transformed by your organization?

A: SBMA has worked hard to ensure art was available to people during the pandemic. Last summer we reintroduced in-person summer camp and one mom shared:

“It’s been a tough year for all of us, but especially difficult for the kids. As soon as you entered the camp after check-in, there was a calm, peaceful atmosphere. Stella was so proud of what she did. There was structure without being rigid, direction while being independent, education in many art styles and tactile experiences – but first and foremost it was really creatively therapeutic. I don’t think I realized how much she needed an experience like this – we know Stella loves art but we were really blown away by how comforting and inspiring this camp was for her. Many thanks from our family to all of you. We are so grateful for the experience she has had and the joy this week of camp has brought her.”

Another community partner was inspired to collaborate after working with us as a teenager.

He shared, “When I first started working for SBCHA, the museum’s commitment to our community and passion for bringing art to Santa Barbara inspired me to reach out in hopes of working together. They were and are an open, committed and caring organization. As a student [at Santa Barbara City College]they have allowed me to find myself and my culture through art and through this partnership I hope to be able to give the same gift to other people in our community.”

SBMA is at its best when it really reaches people and supports their connection to the arts.

Q: How is the work of your nonprofit organization communicated to the public?

A: SBMA members receive a quarterly newsletter with information on upcoming activities and exhibitions. We have a strong social media presence and advertise in the local press.

Q: Can you give us a short-term AND long-term goal that your nonprofit organization has for the next year?

A: The goal of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is for the people who interact with the museum and its programming to create a connection with art.

Experience has shown that connecting with art fosters compassion, empathy and understanding, qualities that our community can use more and more of.

This year we hope to retain as many members who have returned after the pandemic! We hope that you will keep coming back to the museum to engage with all of the many exhibits that we have coming up. And if you’re not a member yet, join us!

Click here to support the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s mission to serve and educate the public through artwork.

For a complete list of nonprofits eligible to donate this giving season, see Noozhawk’s Guide to Giving.

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