When thinking about the most important nonprofits in Santa Barbara dedicated to promoting art related education, we immediately think about The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB). As a big fan of causes, Kenny Slaught knows that the organization operates as the biggest non-profit visual arts institution in the Central Coast of California and is by all means committed to share and teach about contemporary art in every possible way.
The institution aims to help individuals develop critical thinking through engagement with contemporary art. It is an outstanding inspiration for the community since it doesn’t charge and admission fee to visitors and offers many different free programs and art exhibits every year (at least 8-12 exhibitions annually and 30 public programs and performances). MCASB works solely under donors’ contributions, memberships and fund collecting events.
Similar to The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, MCASB’s main mission is to create strategies that can enhance the impact of art education in the community, having a huge impact not only in the Santa Barbara County but also in the Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. Its entire vision is oriented to opening spaces where people can experience contemporary art, helping them appreciate every piece of artwork and develop innovative while learning how to become active spectators.
History of the Museum
Initially founded under the name of Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (CAF), the museum starts as a venue supported by different artists dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art exclusively. It was initially presented as a forum since its main mission was to open spaces for discussion and contemporary art exhibition in the local and global context showing the community how art was being conceived today.
After the forum started it was only a matter of time for it to grow and become what it is today: The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara. Donors,, and different committed institutions made it possible for the museum to settle and open its doors to the general public free of charge. The main reason why the MCASB doesn’t charge a single penny to their audience is because they believe that art should be a right and not a luxury, ergo, it should be accessible to anyone who wants to witness and engage with it.
MCASB is more than a work of art, it is a work in progress supported by many individuals who truly feel inspired by its initiative and believe it should be seen as an opportunity for children and adults in the Santa Barbara community to grow and acknowledge all that the visual and performing arts have to offer.
The museum offers different types of programs with different target audiences aiming to help with the community development through art. These programs are focused on offering services that may allow individuals to engage in their community, diversity around them and art experimentation. Each program emphasizes the importance of creativity, empowerment and being a lifelong appreciator of art and its multiple expressions.
Sessions: “living room” spaces are opened to have art related conversations. This program was introduced by the museum so creative thinkers, artists and art lovers in the community had a space to talk about art, culture, politics and social subjects that currently affect different art movements in the world.
smART Salons: These programs are linked to what is currently being exhibited at the museum. Interdisciplinary conversations are held between invited speakers from different disciplines (even if they don’t belong to the visual arts guild) and the audience.
smART Talks: Aiming to create awareness towards contemporary art, three talks are held every year by local artists, sharing their experience, work, and creative processes.
Teen Insider’s Project (TIP): This program is a nine-month experience dedicated to developing a lifelong love for the arts among youth. Each student has access to professional artists’ studios, art collections, historians, curators and an annual field trip to the city of Los Angeles.
As it was said before, MCASB is mainly funded by donors and highly supported by the community. Due to this fact, the organization counts on volunteer work to support different projects, such as special events, administrative assistance and even educational programming. Each volunteer plays a very important role to this non-profit, contributing to the execution of its mission and day to day activities.
The museum offers different types of internship programs for those who are interested in being part of the largest non-profit visual arts institution of the Central Coast of California. Interns can work in engaging the community with the museum work, enhancing visitors experience, sharing relevant information and opening comfortable spaces to hold meaningful conversations about art today.
There are different ways for individuals to support the museum’s cultural and cause. People can become members of the museum and support emerging artists while being part of a group of art lovers and patrons who actively take part in the intellectual and artistic life of the community.
Besides donations, which are always welcomed, people can participate in a Dream Home Raffle that so far has taken place for 15 consecutive years now. This raffle has helped the museum raise millions of dollars in funds to support art programs, extending its mission to the youngest members of the community.