The first part of the renovation of the Santa Barbara Bowl is on schedule and will be completed by May 14, in time for the summer concert season.
Phase one is an eight-year, multi-phase project with an estimated total cost of $20 million. During this phase, the old stage will be rebuilt, and new backstage dressing rooms, public restrooms and other facilities will be installed.
A team of supporters is conducting around-the-clock fundraising in order to support the massive renovation project, which so far has been financed mainly by private donors and organizations. In 2000, an anonymous donor put $3 million towards the project, and that money, coupled with a $3.1 million State of California grant and several other private donations, provided funding for the first phase of renovations.
The 4,500-seat amphitheater was originally built in 1936 for the Fiesta celebration and was funded by the Works Project Administration. The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, a non-profit organization, gained control of the venue in 1994. Since that time, the organization has funded improvements with private money donated by members of the community. Previous improvements have included power, water, drainage and sewer lines. Upcoming plans include a new proscenium, seating and plaza improvements, and an enlarged arrival area.
“We need to have the community continue to support us,” Director of Development Patty Clarke said. “It is a county facility, so we do this all for the community. It’s not a private endeavor in any way.”
Phase two, which will add new stage housing and a new patio area, will begin after summer.
As for the final completion date, Clarke said, “It really depends on how quick the funding comes in. We can’t do it all at once.”