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Lobero Theatre Foundation

The mission of the Lobero Theatre Foundation is to maintain and operate the historic Lobero Theatre as a performing arts center and cultural asset to the community of Santa Barbara, and to present the highest quality productions in music, dance, and theater.

Located in the heart of the downtown historic district, the theatre itself is an intimate and beautiful setting, serving as the home stage for the major local performing arts organizations and dance schools, and acting as a meeting space for corporate, nonprofit, and social groups.

From youth to adults, from jazz lovers to ballet enthusiasts, the Lobero’s wide variety of programming attracts audiences from every cultural background and all walks of life.

More than 70,000 people attend performances at the Lobero annually, coming from the Tri-County, and throughout California, the U.S. and the world.

In 1938, the Lobero Theatre Foundation was established specifically to raise funds to maintain and upgrade the physical aspects of the Lobero and to bring community-enhancing events to its stage. Though the theatre was still owned by the city of Santa Barbara, the Foundation’s Board of Directors acted as stewards of the building, even raising a record $3.5 million to complete a state-mandated seismic renovation in the early 1990s.

“The Lobero is California’s oldest, continuously operating theatre. Originally founded in 1873 and rebuilt in 1924, it is recognized as one of Santa Barbara’s architectural jewels and a State and City landmark.”

In 1996, the County of Santa Barbara deeded the theatre to the Lobero Theatre Foundation, and today, the Lobero Theatre Foundation continues to raise funds for the benefit of the theatre, and has expanded its mission to support the following activities and audiences:

Although the Lobero Theatre Foundation serves as owner and steward of this landmark institution, it is really you, the Lobero donor and ticket buyer, who serve as the true “foundation” of this great organization. The community built the theatre to be its stage and its cultural heart, and the Lobero Theatre Foundation is dedicated to honoring that tradition.

Download the 2021-2022 Annual Report

Lobero LIVE

The Foundation is committed to bringing the best artists and the finest entertainment to the Lobero stage, be it via the Jazz at the Lobero series, or one of the 20 to 30 other shows the Foundation presents annually.

Lobero Endowment

The Foundation is actively working to build a $5 million endowment fund to ensure that the Lobero Theatre remains vibrant and accessible for the community of Santa Barbara.

Brubeck Circle

The mission of the Brubeck Circle is to support and preserve jazz in Santa Barbara through performance, residency and education at the Lobero Theatre. Gifts ensure the future of jazz at one of the world’s best venues.

Youth and Community Programs

Each season the Foundation brought the performing arts to more than 3,000 local students and under-served community members.

VIP Tickets

At the Lobero, VIPs get a standing ovation.

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Going Green

Reusable Souvenir Pint Cups are on sale now!

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From its earliest days, the Lobero has been Santa Barbara’s grand stage for both community and professional performances.

The Lobero flourished in the 1920’s with a glittering golden era of “preview performances” for Hollywood. Stage greats Lionel Barrymore, Tallulah Bankhead, and Bela Lugosi, as well as young musicians Vladimir Horowitz and Sergei Rachmaninoff, were among the giants who trod the Lobero Stage.

In the 1940’s the talent that came to the Lobero was dazzling in review. A favorite stop for performances between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Lobero hosted such stars as Dame Judith Anderson, Clark Gable, Basil Rathbone, Ingrid Bergman, Igor Stravinsky, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Martha Graham, Betty Grable and Tyrone Power.

The Lobero’s noted jazz history began in 1949 with with Nappy La Marre and the Dixie Land Bobcats, with the Bay City Jazz. From then on the Lobero has consistently presented jazz in a wide variety of formats, hosting the “Who’s Who” of the jazz world including Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Ray Brown, Roy Haynes and many more.

Other stars that have graced the Lobero stage include Lynn Redgrave, Jerome Lowenthal, Bobby McFerrin, Marilyn Horne, John Cleese, Jeff, Beau, and Lloyd Bridges, Kathy Bates, Tracy Chapman, John Raitt, James Whitmore, McCoy Tyner, Charles Lloyd, Hal Holbrook, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Carol Burnett, Dave Brubeck, Michael Feinstein, Debbie Reynolds, and Patrick Stewart.

It is the home stage to most of the major performing arts groups in Santa Barbara including State Street Ballet, Opera SB, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, CAMA’s Masterseries, Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, Music Academy of the West, and many others.


Best Places to See Jazz by DownBeat Magazine

In testament to the Lobero Theatre Foundation’s continued efforts to present quality jazz and American roots performances in a cherished historic setting, the Lobero Theatre is recognized in 2011 as one of the Best Places to See Jazz by DownBeat Magazine, the pre-eminent publication of the jazz and roots genre for the last 76 years


The Foundation launches its Endowment for Excellence

The Foundation launches its Endowment for Excellence in 2006 in four areas: Dance, American Roots Music, Theatre and Classical Music. Proceeds from the endowment will ensure that the world’s finest performers continue to appear on the Lobero stage.


The Lobero Theatre Foundation interred a new time capsule

In August 2004, the Lobero Theatre Foundation interred a new time capsule in the Lobero Courtyard, to be opened in twenty years for the Lobero’s 100th anniversary.


Jose Lobero’s Trombone Discovered

In 2003, Churchill’s Jewelry store owner Dick Kern discovered an old trombone in the attic of his building, once a music store. Instrument expert Nick Rail confirms that it may have belonged to Jose Lobero. It is placed on view in the Lobero Theatre lobby.


Courtyard Construction

Courtyard Fund was kicked off in February 2001. Over the next two years, the Lobero Associates raised more than $265,000 for the beautification of the back patio. Construction began mid-March and was completed on time and on budget on June 28, 2003. The patio is now used for receptions, dinners and special events.


Stage Renovation

In 2000, the Lobero Theatre Foundation embarked on an ambitious plan to renovate the most fundamental aspects of any theatre’s infrastructure: the lighting, rigging and sound systems. The stage renovation is completed on-budget and in plenty of time for a return visit by Baryshnikov for five sold-out performances in May 2002.


Mikhail Baryshnikov Took the Stage

Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov took the stage for five special solo evenings at the Lobero in 1998. The Lobero is by far the smallest venue the dancer has appeared in for over 25 years.


Loan Forgiveness

On August 19, 1997, the City of Santa Barbara’s Redevelopment Agency forgave a $468,000 loan for the seismic work.


Lobero Theatre Foundation Received the Deed to the Theatre

In June 1996, the Lobero Theatre Foundation received the deed to the theatre from the County of Santa Barbara. The Lobero Theatre Foundation now owns the theatre, which it has operated since 1938.


Seismic Renovation

The state-mandated seismic renovation of the Lobero Theatre began in 1993 and took more than four years to complete. Over 4,600 gifts from the community were received to reach the $3 million goal for the project.


First Jazz Performance

December 1949 is when the first jazz performance is presented on the Lobero stage, kicking off a long and enduring legacy as Santa Barbara’s premier destination for live jazz.


Incorporated as a 501 (c 3) Organization

In 1938 the Lobero Theatre Foundation was incorporated as a 501 (c 3) organization and to this day manages, maintains, preserves and programs the Lobero Theatre.


Mediterranean Style

The theatre’s Mediterranean style was adopted as an architectural model after the 1925 earthquake.


Lobero Opened its Doors

On August 4, 1924, today’s Lobero opened its doors with a gala production of Beggar on Horseback. Santa Barbara celebrated the opening with the inaugural Fiesta which was the predecessor of today’s Fiesta and Old Spanish Days.


Plans for a New Theatre

In 1922 the Community Arts Association purchased the old Lobero, which had fallen into disrepair, and turned to the community for the support to build a new theatre. Over $180,000 was raised in less than a month, and plans for a new theatre, designed by George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs, began.



On Washington’s Birthday 1873, Jose Lobero (born “Giuseppe” in Genoa, Italy) opened California’s only opera house south of San Francisco on the site of an old wooden schoolhouse at Canon Perdido and Anacapa streets. It featured a suspended horseshoe balcony and could seat 1,300. At the time of its opening, the Lobero was the largest adobe building in California and soon established itself as the cultural heart of Santa Barbara.

Big Names. Small Room.

Lobero LIVE

Lobero LIVE is proud to present another season packed with some of the biggest names in blues, rock and Americana. These concerts are only a portion of the activity that takes place here. The Lobero Theatre Foundation is busy behind the scenes to maintain the Lobero as a vibrant community resource–which includes presenting top-quality entertainment and providing enriching programs for youth and other underserved populations. Support our many worthy programs by making a gift.

Lobero LIVE is funded in part by the Events and Festivals Program using funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture.

What's On

Jazz at the Lobero

For 23+ years the Lobero has been ground zero for some of the best jazz concerts around. Jazz at the Lobero was born in 1999 from a passion for dynamic and intimate performances from top jazz artists you couldn’t get anywhere else. It continues today thanks to the support and patronage of our subscribers.

Jazz at the Lobero enjoys additional sponsorship from Montecito Bank & Trust, The Santa Barbara Independent, the Lobero Theatre Endowment for American Roots Music (LTEARM), the Lobero Brubeck Circle of Donors.



Contact Information

Foundation Office
Email a staff member

Box Office

Contact the box office with general inquiries so they can better direct your call


David Asbell, Executive Director

Marianne Clark, Administrative Director

Don McGreevy, Controller


Brandon Mowery, Director of Development

Sylvie Monsivais, Assistant Director of Development

Jim Dougherty, Director of Planned Giving

Sheila Caldwell, Donor Relations & Events


Cecilia Martini-Muth, Director of Marketing & Communications

Anne Wilde, Marketing and Communications Associate

Naseem Hyder, Web Development


Todd A. Jared, Technical Director and Production Manager


Gina Graham, Box Office Manager

Joshua James. Assistant Box Office Manager


Genevieve Rhiger, Ticketing Services Director

Betsy Craig, Concession Manager

Rick Villa, House Manager


Charles de L’Arbre

Vice President
Rob Hambleton

Melissa Fassett

Bridget Foreman

Past President
Steve H. Hayes

At Large
Susan Torrey

At Large
John Gerngross

General Members
Tim Casey
Stephen Cloud
Mindy Denson
Jeff DeVine
Brett Hodges
Laurie Bentson Kauth
Laurie Kirby

Amy MacLeod
Janet McCann
William J. Nasif
Denise Sanford
Luis Villegas
Torben Von Staden

David Anderson
Director Emeritus

Lobero Theatre Associates

Denise Sanford

Vice President
Mindy Denson

Mini Member Liaison
Maribel Jarchow

Joan Crossland

Recording Secretary
Margaret Slater

Corresponding Secretary
Jennifer Steckline

Cynthia Glist

Past President
Mindy Denson

Advisory Board

Barbara J. Burgess
Patrick Davis
James H. Hurley Jr.
Rod Lathim

Lillian Lovelace
Craig Madsen
Jim Morouse

Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree
Rob Skinner
Anne F. Towbes

Anthony Wall
Judi Weisbart
Nancy R. Lynn, Executive Director Emeritus