Nonprofit Spotlight: Turning Canceled Trips into Community Investment | Local News

Community-minded citizens of the Santa Ynez Valley are turning the disappointment of canceled cruises and vacations into more generous charitable giving in 2020 and 2021.

Good causes during the pandemic range from stocking up local food banks to rebuilding the Solvang Festival Theatre.

“There has never been a better time to support efforts to feed our most vulnerable residents,” said Erica Flores, “and yet now is not the time to forget the nurturing magic of the soul of live performances right here in the valley.”

Erica is Director of Communications and Development for People Helping People and recently joined the Theaterfest Board of Directors because she sees the importance of meeting the broader needs of the community.

The beloved 700-seat open-air theater was built 46 years ago and has hosted thousands of professional theater performances and countless live concerts over the years. It brings tourists to businesses in the valley and provides a venue for other local nonprofits to gather and fundraise for their own good causes. But now – due to all that wear and tear – it is in dire need of a major restoration.

When Lois and Sonny Brown, residents of the Valley for over 12 years, learned that their scheduled Greek Isles cruise had been canceled and was unlikely to be rescheduled in the near future, they decided to replace their disappointment with the joy of giving.

Lois is on the board of Theaterfest, so they didn’t have to go far to look for a worthy cause, and settled on an opportunity to nominate in support of 4’s rebuilding campaign, $7 million.

“We’ve always enjoyed serving local wines at the Patron’s Garden Bar before PCPA performances and live music concerts,” Lois said, “so we’ll be lending our names to this bar. What better way to use canceled travel funds than to pass on the joy of live performance to future generations.

During the pandemic year, Lily Carey was able to give generously to a number of non-profit organizations, including Direct Relief International, UCSB Arts & Lectures, the local Rotary and Theaterfest. Lily considers all types of performing arts to be “necessary for everyone’s sanity”.

But she has an additional reason to support live theater: her grandfather, Harry Carey – who appeared in films alongside John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart – was a playwright and performed in New York theater before come to Hollywood. So Lily watches with particular affection the PCPA artists who take to the stage at the Solvang Festival Theater every summer.

“The performers are fantastic,” Lily said. “Even judged against big city artists, they are amazing. Plus,” she continued, “this beautiful outdoor theater is the jewel of the valley – as a community, we need to do whatever it takes to make sure it continues to thrive.

Valley residents Bill and Kelley Brennan were on holiday in New Zealand last March when borders began to close due to the pandemic. Having to leave New Zealand early was a huge disappointment, but the travel company refunded.

As more and more activity wrapped up here at home, the Brennans had time to reflect on the many summer evenings they had enjoyed over the years at the Solvang Festival Theater – sitting under the stars, sipping wine, reuniting with friends and neighbours. “It seemed fair,” Kelley said, “to use this travel reimbursement to help rebuild the theater, doing our part to ensure professional live theater and music for future generations of residents and tourists alike. valley.”

Paul and Suzi Matthies expected to visit France and make several trips to Seattle and Connecticut to see their children and grandson. “But it’s a great feeling to realize the travel budget that we couldn’t use this year because of something as terrible as a global pandemic can be redistributed to do good in our community,” said said Suzi, noting that they have supported the local YMCA, Theaterfest, Santa Ynez Valley Community Kitchen in St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley, Bethania Church Weekly Food Distribution and Atterdag at Home.

Community residents have stepped up in big and small ways to support local nonprofits this year. When the 2020 Summer PCPA program had to be cancelled, the Star Patrons, who attend a drink and dinner reception before each play, almost universally donated their program costs to the Solvang Festival Theater to help make up for the loss. revenue due to Covid -19 closure.

These nonprofits — and all nonprofits in the Central Coast community — urge residents to be as generous as possible. From feeding the hungry to supporting the programs and places that make our region special, we need it now more than ever.

Theaterfest is a 501c3 non-profit corporation whose goal is to provide a unique performing arts venue that promotes the highest quality experience for performers and audience members in a safe and accessible space for all. . To learn more about the theater rebuilding campaign, please email [email protected]

Lois Brown is a board member of Theaterfest.

Jill E. Washington