How to Support the Music Academy of the West

How to Support the Music Academy of the West


Founded in 1947, the Music Academy of the West provides young, classical musicians with a chance to hone and develop their skills through participation in a rigorous study program that includes rehearsals, private lessons, competitions, and concerts. Music Academy Fellows attend the academy on a full scholarship that covers the cost of tuition, housing and accommodations, transportation, and meals. As a nonprofit organization, the Music Academy of the West depends on sponsors, volunteers, and donors to fund its many programs. Individuals or companies interested in supporting the Music Academy of the West can do so in a variety of ways.

Direct Donations

Direct donations help the Music Academy support its full-scholarship program for fellows and also cover the costs associated with special events, concerts, and programs that occur throughout the year. The Music Academy accepts direct donations online as well as by both mail or phone. The online donation form allows donors to choose from several different donation amounts or input a custom amount. In addition to supporting the Music Academy’s programs, donors receive benefits such as priority ticketing and seating for performance, invitations to exclusive Music Academy events, and access to behind-the-scenes rehearsals.

Planned Giving

sheet music
Image courtesy Will Fisher on Flickr

Planned giving allows individuals to designate the Music Academy as a beneficiary of a will, retirement or investment accounts, or life insurance policy. The Music Academy accepts specific bequests, such as monetary amounts, real estate, and vehicles, as well as percentage or residual bequests for people who wish to leave a percentage of their income or property to the academy. Advice about planned giving is available on the Music Academy’s website, where potential donors are encouraged to speak with financial advisers to determine how planned giving affects their current and future finances.


Fundraisers are a great way to pay tribute to the Music Academy while mingling with fellows, faculty, and past alumni. The Music Academy hosts a number of fundraisers throughout the year to support its academic programs. The May Madness treasure and estate sale fundraiser has been a staple of Santa Barbara for over 35 years, with all profits benefiting the Music Academy’s full-scholarship program. Another popular annual fundraiser is the Santa Barbara Golf Invitational at the Birnam Wood Golf Club in Montecito, where participants play a round of golf and enjoy a cocktail hour, a gala dinner, and performances by Music Academy alumni. Past fundraisers include cabarets, performances from current students and alumni, and live vocal auditions in front of Music Academy faculty.


Monetary help is not the only way people can lend a hand. The Music Academy frequently needs volunteers to help with performances and events as ushers and ticket takers for its annual Summer Festival or as hosts for performance and lecture events. Volunteers who have unique skills are welcome to help out backstage with lighting, props, costumes, and makeup for year-round opera performances. The Music Academy also has two specialized volunteer organizations: the Women’s Auxiliary and the Compeer Program.

The Women’s Auxiliary organizes many of the academy’s fundraisers and act as ushers during special masterclass performances during the Summer Festival, which takes place from mid-June through mid-August. Women’s Auxiliary members also volunteer in the Music Academy’s two on-campus shops, The Rack and the Treasure House. The Compeer Program matches volunteers and donors with Music Academy fellows during the summer season to promote community awareness and friendship. Compeer volunteers interact with Music Academy fellows at least once a week, participating in events such as private dinners or sightseeing tours around Santa Barbara. The Compeer Program entered its 18th season in 2015.

Interested individuals can volunteer their time by contacting the Music Academy by phone or email. Volunteers may be required to fill out an application and participate in an interview.

Shops and Rentals

The Music Academy has two on-campus shops that are staffed by volunteers. The Rack sells high-quality resale apparel such as designer clothing, jewelry, and accessories. The Treasure House sells antiques, fine china, linens, and other household items and accessories. All profits from both shops support the Music Academy’s scholarship program.

In addition to its two shops on campus, the Music Academy rents out its gardens and many of its facilities. The Music Academy encourages local businesses or individuals to rent the facilities for musical performances, seminars, auditions and rehearsals, or nonprofit fundraisers. Four facilities are available for rental: Hahn Hall, Lehmann Hall, Weinman Hall, and Stewart Hall.

All donations, volunteer work, and support from individuals and businesses help support educational opportunities for Music Academy fellows and provide the community of Santa Barbara with the opportunity to experience and engage with the next generation of classical musicians. The Music Academy prides itself on offering full scholarships to its fellows, and greatly depends on its donors and volunteers to help support its multiple programs, concerts, and events. Anyone interested in helping can find a list of ways to donate available at