Atkinson Gallery Seeks to Secure 40-year Community Legacy

Posted on Apr 23 by SEASONS Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Atkinson Gallery

Photo Courtesy of Atkinson Gallery

Santa Barbara City College‘s Art Department and  SBCC Foundation seek to secure Atkinson Gallery, Santa Barbara’s cherished educational and community gallery.

“Through the Atkinson Gallery’s programs, students learn critical thinking skills essential for future careers in the arts and beyond. True to our mission at SBCC, the Atkinson Gallery is an invaluable learning laboratory that provides students a diverse learning environment that inspires curiosity and discovery,” says Lori Gaskin, SBCC President.

Named after Charles Atkinson, a founding member of the SBCC Art Department, the Atkinson Gallery has been in existence since 1975. Although the SBCC Foundation successfully established a small endowment that partially supports the Gallery Directorship, it is insufficient for long-term sustainability.

Photo Courtesy of Atkinson Gallery

Photo Courtesy of Atkinson Gallery

The fundraising goal has shifted from the year-to-year funding that has supported the temporary annual position to endowing the directorship fully. “A $2 million endowment for the directorship will ensure the continuation of the impactful exhibitions, hands-on job training, community outreach and education, and professional artists’ lectures for which the gallery has been well-known and valued for 40 years,” says Joy Kunz, SBCC Art Department Chair

The annual cost of maintaining the Gallery and its programming at current levels is approximately $100,000. Unfortunately, state funding sources do not include support of this integral position, which is why SBCC turns to the community.

Atkinson Gallery Director Sarah Cunningham says, “The Gallery is a dynamic classroom for both SBCC students and the community. Just last week, we had 60 elementary school students join in a gallery discussion and a hands-on art-making activity with local artist Maria Rendón.”

Atkinson Galley influences students, faculty, and the community daily. Current SBCC art student Ben Eckert says, “Without the influence, support, and guidance of the Atkinson Gallery, I can honestly say that I would not be making the caliber of work that I am today, and without the experience of participating in shows like the Small Images show or the Annual Student show, I would not have the confidence to follow my dream of attending art school and becoming a professional artist.”

On the occasion of the Atkinson Gallery’s 40th anniversary, with the newly renovated facilities and the blessing of the Atkinson family, the Art Department and SBCC Foundation offer recognition opportunities including the re-naming of the gallery to potential donors. “We encourage donations big and small. We know our community truly treasures the Atkinson Gallery, and we look forward to working with the college and community to secure both the Gallery and the Director’s position in perpetuity,” says Geoff Green, CEO of the SBCC Foundation.

 Donations are welcome via the gallery website,, where the program is also collecting testimonials regarding the gallery’s impact.

—Elizabeth Sanchez


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