Art For A Healthier Society: Resident Art Program With SBAC and CAW

Posted on Feb 23 by SEASONS Magazine

Art is more than just a visually pleasing aesthetic; It is a window into insight on topics such as politics, class, and culture. Most importantly, it is a way to open up a dialogue on different societal issues. With this in mind, the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative (SBAC) is starting an artist-in-residence program, based at the Community Arts Workshop (CAW). This program will aim to meet community needs, bridge social barriers, and foster civic engagement with local issues.

There are currently three residency projects planned at the CAW for 2018. Coming up in February, the first project, titled Going Home, will be lead by local teaching artists Michael Morgan, Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, and five to eight youth who are homeless or have experienced homelessness. By utilizing theatrical techniques, Going Home aims to address a multitude of issues confronting the youth. In other words, it “applies theater as a catalyst for problem solving.” Improvisation, voice work, drawing, photography, spoken word, poetry and rap will be some of the methods used in order to offer the youth “choices about how they want to express themselves and to provide them with varied perspectives.” The residency will conclude with a theater performance and will include a stakeholder/public discussion on the issues confronting these young people.

Next up in April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, local printmakers Bay Hallowell, Sara Woodburn, Meagan Stirling, and project lead Claudia Borfiga, will conduct a series of printmaking workshops with sexual assault survivors and their loved ones in partnership with the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center. The workshops will provide an opportunity for support, creative expression and empowerment. The residency will conclude with a public exhibition of screen-printed banners and community dialogues on sexual assault.

Later on in the year, art enthusiasts can look forward to a community-based storytelling theater residency called Cuentos del Pueblo (Stories of the Town) at the CAW. Lead by Joseph Velasco, Carlos Cuellar and Sio Tepper, the trio will each bring their own unique artistic experiences to the table to “create a safe space for members of the community to come together and develop their own stories through a series of acting and storytelling workshops.” Velasco’s work with El Teatro Capesino and City at Peace Santa Barbara, Cuellar’s work as a muralist, photographer and teaching artist, and Tepper’s experience as a musician and co-founder of TOTEM is sure to come together wonderfully in an effort to transform ideas and feelings about one’s sense of community and togetherness with others in said community. The workshops will conclude with public performances based on the participants’ lives that will include audience interaction and dialogue about the issues discussed in the various works.

This program allows the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative to develop the CAW’s potential as a public square for art and dialogue. As the CAW is working towards transforming the way people see art, Sharyn Main, Senior Director of Community Investment at the Santa Barbara Foundation says, “It is our hope that the CAW will be recognized not just as a place for artists to work, but as a critical public space of civic engagement and conversation.” Don’t miss out on a unique opportunity to not only experience making this kind of art first-hand, but also to learn more about the deeper issues this art sheds light on.

For more information on the events taking place at the CAW, visit

—Ashley Killion


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