Executive Director's Update

  October 2016

Dear friends,

The Campaign is almost complete! We have already raised $10 million for current programs, and we are less than $200,000 from our goal of building a $10 million endowment – the first of its kind for this community program – ensuring support for Arts & Lectures, now and forever.

This Campaign has been an incredible experience. Every time someone steps forward to invest in Arts & Lectures, we are honored – and humbled – by your trust in our program.

There is still time for you to get involved! Gifts of all sizes matter! Each and every gift gets us one step closer to the fully-funded endowment that will enable A&L to continue inspiring our community on a daily basis.

Our friend Charles Donelan, the Executive Arts Editor at the Santa Barbara Independent, recently declared, "Hats off again to Arts & Lectures for the incredibly eclectic and interesting programming that they bring to our city year in and year out!"

Why are we telling you about this? Because in order to sustain this level of excellence, we need to close in on that endowment goal. Because Arts & Lectures begins with you. Your community, your program, your Arts & Lectures.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to pledge a gift to our Campaign, please consider a contribution today, and we can cross the finish line together!

With deepest gratitude,

signed, Celesta Billeci
Celesta M. Billeci
Miller McCune Executive Director


  Click here to see the March 2016 update

"Music and art make everything more beautiful."

– Trombone Shorty

Dear friends of Arts & Lectures,

We’re very close to the conclusion of the first-ever Campaign for Arts & Lectures and we are now racing to the finish line. Thanks to a profoundly transformative gift, which in addition to making a huge difference for the future of Arts & Lectures has inspired others to give generously, we are less than $1million from the goal of launching our $10 million endowment – a fund which will serve as a hedge against risk as we plan our future programs and reaffirm our commitment to serving this community.

Artistic excellence on stage, thoughtful conversations on timely topics, making connections that inspire our young people on stage and in the classroom – these are the reasons we are pushing forward to complete the Campaign.

And here are just a few of the transformative moments we’ve shared with you – and you’ve shared with each other – just since the start of 2016:

  • Sold-out, over-the-top, terrific performances by classical superstars Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax, guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, Yamato drummers of Japan, and organist Cameron Carpenter.
  • Soccer star Carli Lloyd inspiring hundreds of young soccer players to work hard, play hard, and reach for the stars.
  • Yo-Yo Ma on stage with his colleagues of the Silk Road Ensemble, making irresistible music and blazing new trails in creative expression.
  • The great Renée Fleming in a masterclass with five lucky (and hard-working) music students, on the day after a five-star performance in Campbell Hall.

If you have been stimulated, moved, encouraged, provoked to action or hopelessly overcome by laughter at an A&L event, or if you agree with Trombone Shorty that music and art make everything more beautiful, then please consider a gift to the Campaign for Arts & Lectures. Call us at (805) 893-3465 to discuss options for support of the campaign or make a gift online. A gift of any size can make a difference, now and forever.

Thanks in advance for your support!

signed, Celesta Billeci
Celesta M. Billeci
Miller McCune Executive Director


  Click here to see the June 2015 update

Nearing Our $20 Million Goal

I’m pleased to report that we’ve now achieved 89% of goal for the Arts & Lectures “Now & Forever” Campaign. With just one year to go, we’re pushing ahead to fully fund the A&L Endowments, thus ensuring a base of funding that will enrich the cultural life of our community for generations to come.

2015-16 Corporate Season Sponsor

You'll notice that for the 2015-16 season we've announced a new Corporate Season Sponsor: SAGE Publications. We're thrilled to partner with this esteemed corporation, which recently celebrated 50 years in the publishing industry.

We're proud to announce the 2015-16 season!

It's official: this season's star-studded lineup features luminaries like Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, New York City Ballet MOVES, Anna Deavere Smith, David McCullough and Ry Cooder. This level of artistry is the trademark of our program, and we couldn't be more excited – and proud – to present so many renowned artists and lecturers.

If you’ve ever considered sponsoring an event, now is the time to step forward! Event Sponsors get an insider’s view of the organization and can enjoy special access to artists and guest speakers, as well as the uplifting feeling of helping to bring a world-class artist to the Santa Barbara community.

This season will also conclude our five year Campaign for Arts & Lectures and we need your help to hit that final goal. Here's what A&L Council Member Lynda Weinman and Leadership Circle supporter Bruce Heavin have to say about why building the endowment is so critical:

"The importance of A&L in our community is nothing less than bringing empathy and inspiration to our citizens so that we can create a better world together. It is our honor to contribute to the A&L endowment, extending A&L's reach to future generations."

I invite you to share in this effort to create a better world – together, we can make a difference!

My deepest gratitude to all,

signed, Celesta Billeci
Celesta M. Billeci
Miller McCune Executive Director


A huge thanks to UCSB students, who reaffirmed their support of A&L last April.

This short video illustrates why we love serving UCSB students and how proud we are of the impact we have on the campus community.


  Click here to see the February 2015 update

"I try to communicate to my students the importance of being a global citizen and doing something in the world. The speakers that Arts & Lectures brings in are those kinds of people."

Professor Richard Appelbaum, Ph.D., MacArthur Chair, Global & International Studies and Sociology, UCSB

"If you want to find leverage to change the world, find a student. When you give a student opportunity then you transform not only that person, but it ripples out through so many other people."

Nicholas Kristof, Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times

We’re more than 80% of the way to our goal!

Now, just more than halfway through Arts & Lectures 2014-2015 season of events, we’re hearing accolades like "exceptional," "breathtaking," "superb" and "transformative." And after rare performances from icons like Patti Smith; soul-stirring artistry from Japan’s premier taiko drum ensemble Kodo; a spine-tingling performance by vocalist Audra McDonald; an evening of laughs with John Cleese; and toe-tapping, ear-pleasing romps like this week’s performance by The Avett Brothers, we’re not surprised!

This is the level of sheer excellence, artistry, brilliance and enthusiasm that will drive us to our $20 million goal in The Campaign for Arts & Lectures.

So, now we have some accolades for you, because you make Arts & Lectures, this community-supported program, possible. You are: Visionary. Generous. Community-minded. And simply amazing. We are humbled by how many of you have generously stepped up and told us that Arts & Lectures brings the world to you, to UCSB and to Santa Barbara, to your community, and you want to do your part to ensure the excitement continues, now and forever.

Your financial support is critical in this last 16 months of the Campaign. Every gift counts and gifts of all sizes can make a big difference. We will hit our goal, and shore up this vital program, together.

With deepest appreciation,

signed, Celesta Billeci
Celesta M. Billeci
Miller McCune Executive Director


  Click here to see the October 2014 update

"There is nothing more vital to the life of a community than the arts. It's a hallmark of civilization."

Wynton Marsalis

We're just $5m away from our goal!

Arts & Lectures is in the fourth year of its five-year endeavor to secure the financial future of this award-winning, world-class program. This critical support will ensure that A&L continues to bring quality arts programming and educational outreach to the Santa Barbara community now and forever.

A&L’s now and forever Campaign is a promise to keep the best and the brightest, the most exceptional, inspiring and thought-provoking artists, speakers and ensembles in the world coming to YOU. In the short film posted above you will hear from many of those individuals who are dear friends of this program – and who believe in and support Arts & Lectures. Please remember, Arts & Lectures is a community-supported program – YOU make the difference – and YOU create the possibilities of what can happen in OUR community.

In the words of critic Joe Woodard: “[UCSB Arts & Lectures] amounts to a strong reminder of what makes Santa Barbara such a culturally rich place, aside from its serious beach cred… Once again, A&L is doing its due diligence, giving us an embarrassment of world class cultural riches and compelling reasons to get out of the house.”

This Campaign is our bold step to secure our future – we hope you will join us. We have just $5 million left to raise. A sincere thanks to all of you who have already participated in this important community effort. WE could not do this program without YOU!

To find out how you can join the Campaign for Arts & Lectures, contact A&L Development at 893-2174 or email Sandy.Robertson@sa.ucsb.edu.

Join Us

signed, Celesta Billeci
Celesta M. Billeci
Miller McCune Executive Director


  Click here to see the August 2014 update

Thank you for your help raising $14.7 million! We’re 73% of the way to our $20 million goal, and we look forward to meeting that goal by the end of next season.

Hello A&L friends and family,

If you’ve seen our season brochure I think you’ll agree that the Campaign is already making a difference. (And if you haven’t bought tickets yet, I suggest you do so now! Sales are up from last year, and tickets are flying.)

But focus with me for a moment on the enormous impact UCSB Arts & Lectures has made on the cultural life of the community by presenting the world’s great writers, year after year, making Santa Barbara a reader’s heaven and a thinker’s paradise. As you’ll see in the video above, writers know that there is something unique about our town, about its commitment to the big ideas that Arts & Lectures celebrates each and every season.

It’s those big ideas that the Campaign for Arts & Lectures will protect and promote, now and forever. If you’re stumped about how to get involved, here are a couple of options:

  • A one-time gift to one of the Arts & Lectures endowments. Choose from the Fund for Programmatic Excellence, the Commissioning of New Work Fund, or the Education & Outreach Fund. Gifts of all sizes matter!
  • A special gift to Arts & Lectures, with a payment plan spread out over a few months or a few years.
  • Upgrade your membership to the next level, and commit to maintaining that upgrade for 3-5 years. This makes a huge difference! Of course you’ll be eligible for all the additional benefits of your new membership level.
  • Get together with your colleagues, or your softball team, or your moms group, and bundle a number of smaller gifts into a nice statement of support – smaller gifts can have a big impact when they influence additional support.
  • If you haven’t already done so, join Arts & Lectures! Memberships begin at $100 and – new this year! – include optional membership in the new A&L Book Club… details to be announced in September.

Live well, read widely, and think deeply.
Warmest regards,

signed, Celesta Billeci
Celesta M. Billeci
Miller McCune Executive Director

The Arts & Lectures Effect

Watch Yo-Yo Ma’s comments about how programs like A&L can transform a community – and why they are worth supporting.


  Click here to see the May 2014 update

Hello A&L friends and family,

We’re quickly approaching the finish line of the current season, looking forward to 2014-15, which will be Year Four in the five-year Campaign for Arts & Lectures. (But don’t forget what’s still to come, later this week: opera superstar Jessye Norman on Friday, author and World War II specialist Rick Atkinson on Sunday.)

And there is much to celebrate! We are so proud of our UCSB students, who voted to increase their support of Arts & Lectures by a few dollars each, per student per quarter, which will increase overall student support of A&L by $300,000 per year. Why did the students do this? As the UCSB Daily Nexus wrote, when endorsing the A&L ballot measure:

Arts & Lectures provides valuable educational and entertainment services to students and community members of all ages and backgrounds… their contributions to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus and local communities cannot be overlooked.

This additional income will be used to maintain super-discounted ticket prices for students, to fund implementation of a mobile app for ticket sales – which will be available to all ticket buyers, not just students – and to help underwrite the cost of the many informal Q&A sessions, classroom visits, etc. that bring visiting artists and guest speakers into close contact with students, thus deepening and enriching their experience of the performances and lectures they are eager to attend.

Student support leads me to an important Campaign message: small gifts count! because they add up! Do you and your neighbors attend the Family Fun series together? Then consider organizing a neighborhood donation to A&L. Did your book club enjoy meeting Ann Patchett or Malcolm Gladwell or Billy Collins? Then perhaps they’d like to make a book club donation to the Campaign for Arts & Lectures. How will we reach our Campaign goal of $20 million? One student, one enthusiastic ticket buyer, one neighborhood, one book club at a time.

Are you already involved in the Campaign for Arts & Lectures? If so, thank you! If not, please consider what role you (or your book club, or your neighborhood) will play in ensuring the future of “the intellectual and cultural vitality” of Santa Barbara. Call (805) 893-2174 or send a note toSandy Robertson (Sandy.Robertson@sa.ucsb.edu) and let us know you’d like to get involved.

Meanwhile, watch the mail for your 2014-15 season brochure.

signed, Celesta Billeci
Celesta M. Billeci
Miller McCune Executive Director


  Click here to see the March 2014 update

Hello A&L friends and family,

Just one year ago we announced the public phase of the Campaign for Arts & Lectures, in which we promised to raise $20 million to fill the gap between rising costs and diminishing institutional support, ensuring that the excellence you’ve come to expect from the words “presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures” will continue well into the future.

And there’s much to report – as you’ll see in the many NEWS FLASH items here.

We’ve adopted the tag “now and forever” to capture the promise of the Campaign – because you’re probably already enjoying the kick-it-up-a-notch programming, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Yo-Yo Ma, and Wynton Marsalis all within two weeks, each participating in free outreach programs, each enchanting us with their unique artistry. And while we can’t promise that every two-week period will have such artistic depth and sheer star power, we can and will promise that your contributions to the Campaign for Arts & Lectures will make a difference in the lives of students and the life of our community.

As we move towards year three of our five-year Campaign, you’ll be hearing more about the Arts & Lectures endowment, a key strategy in our plan for long-term financial stability. An endowment functions much like a personal savings account, providing interest income to supplement our earned income (ticket sales and miscellaneous fees) and contributed income (donations, grants, fundraising auctions, etc) which make up the bulk of A&L’s annual operating budget.

If you’ve already made a decision about your personal involvement in the Campaign – thank you! If not – please, consider what role you will play in the Campaign for Arts & Lectures. Call our Development office at or send a note toand let her know you’d like to have a conversation.

Meanwhile, I’ll see you at curtain time.

signed, Celesta Billeci
Celesta M. Billeci
Miller McCune Executive Director