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Santa Barbara Symphony Interim CEO Kathryn R. Martin Provides Insights and Updates

Maestro Nir Kabaretti, who is usually in Europe this time of year, is here in Santa Barbara, and we are benefitting! Our Sunday’s with the Symphony started as a way to replace our canceled concerts. Now, this monthly broadcast has turned into something extraordinary in its own right as Nir brings us closer to the music and musicians we love (and miss).
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Greetings!  

How can it be possible that at the Symphony  –  during a pandemic and with no live concerts  –  we are busier and more excited than we have EVER been?!

It’s true!  

Maestro Nir Kabaretti, who is usually in Europe this time of year, is here in Santa Barbara, and we are benefitting! Our Sunday’s with the Symphony started as a way to replace our canceled concerts.  Now, this monthly broadcast has turned into something extraordinary in its own right as Nir brings us closer to the music and musicians we love (and miss).

Students from all over the county are submitting their audition materials for this year’s virtual Youth Symphony program.

Live music continues to inspire our community – this past Sunday, members of the Symphony performed for the residents of the Maravilla Retirement community (socially-distanced, of course!).

While it won’t be safe to continue our elementary school music education programs during COVID, we’re working with the school district, our funders, teachers and volunteers to create new ways to keep music in students’ lives.

Our engagement on social media has skyrocketed, new people are learning about us, and more people are subscribing to our email list, and making donations online!  Click here to follow us on Facebook.

In the background, our small and mighty staff are working virtually to create and attend to all the significant details, logistics, and never-been-done-before planning that will all make it possible to not only survive – but thrive.

Our communication has increased, and we look forward to doing more.  Last week, we held a Town Hall with the musicians of the Symphony, our Board of Directors continues to meet twice each month, staff meets daily, and soon we will be launching ZOOM groups for our subscribers, donors and sponsors to keep everyone abreast of how we’re doing, what we’re planning, and ways to help.

Speaking of planning … of course, THE most-asked question we hear (and what is keeping us all busy running the numbers, and learning about musician and audience safety) is:  What are you going to do this Season?  Are you canceling or postponing like other performing arts organizations around the country? 

It goes without saying that as an organization, the pandemic’s financial ramifications have required us to look at everything we do, how we do it, and assess how to best deliver the impact to the community we are here to serve. In what I might describe as passionate discussions at Board and Staff meetings, and creative and regular collaboration with the Orchestra Committee, we have adopted a road map forward, with several scenarios that allow us to continue to adjust and modulate our plans as COVID-19 guidelines continue to shift and unfold.

Here’s what I want you to know:  We are working to create and offer a safe and spectacular 2020-2021 Season.  There are many moving parts, and each week as we tackle and address obstacles we are finding a path forward.  

We are guided by our four mandates:

Mindfully create strategies for this season that will also create a strong foundation for the future: operating within a balanced budget, increasing contributed revenue, amplifying our impact, building and funding three year artistic and operational plans.

Deliver on our promise to our subscribers:  can we offer 7 subscription events that, while different, create powerful musical experiences that bring our community together?  Going DARK as so many symphony orchestra’s are being forced to do, was not an option we chose to pursue.

Keep those in our care, safe: taking our lead from state and county public health officials, the school district, The Granada Theatre’s social distancing and safety requirements, collaborative discussions with the Orchestra Committee and the Union, and – thanks to over 400 responses to our on-line audience SURVEY last month – learning  what you will feel comfortable doing.  

Connect the community to the Symphony – the organization, the music, and the musicians. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the notes of support and well-wishes you’ve been sending us.  Thank you for making your donations in support of our mission.  Thank you for asking how the musicians of the Santa Barbara Symphony are doing.  We’re so grateful to our Santa Barbara vendors who have been reaching out with creative ways we can reduce expenses, and we’re moved by our funding partners who have increased their support to help us navigate the pandemic and the devastating loss of revenue it has caused.

In gratitude, 

Kathryn

The Santa Barbara Symphony looks forward to sharing the upcoming season of thrilling and inspired programming with the community and visitors alike! For more information on the Santa Barbara Symphony, or its programming, visit https://thesymphony.org.

About The Santa Barbara Symphony

The Santa Barbara Symphony, founded in 1953 on the belief that a special city deserves a special orchestra. Consistently lauded for its unique ability to present brilliant concerts, engage the community, and deliver dynamic music education programs, the organization prizes both innovation and artistic excellence, and is widely recognized as one of the region’s premier cultural institutions. Its award-winning Music Education Center serves more than 10,000 students throughout Santa Barbara County each year. Charismatic Israeli conductor Nir Kabaretti was appointed music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony in 2006.

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