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The Heart & Rhythm of
Santa Barbara for 150 Years.


The Opera House

Originally founded as Jose Lobero’s Opera House in 1873, the Lobero is the oldest continuously operating theater in California, and the fourth oldest performing arts theater in the country. Whether hosting events of great societal importance, launching the careers of Hollywood legends, serving as an influential jazz venue, or providing a stage for some of the world’s finest performers, the Lobero inspires diverse audiences of all ages.

The Lobero
is a place
where we

Spirit of Fiesta 2022
Tara Mata Photo By Fritz Olenberger

a stage
for some
of the

Lindsey Buckingham 4-15-22
Photo By David Bazemore

The Lobero also provides a platform for local artists and regional organizations, such as Opera Santa Barbara, CAMA, Flamenco Arts Festival, State Street Ballet, AHA! and many more. With the next 150 years on the horizon, now is the time to commit to setting the stage for posterity – ensuring that this theater will be physically and financially ready for whatever the future holds, while providing support and partnership for its family of arts institutions that make the Lobero the cultural jewel of Santa Barbara.

An Ovation Celebration

To commemorate this occasion, the theater will mount a public celebration and awareness campaign to pay tribute to this remarkable landmark, and position the Lobero Theatre to be a prominent, integral, and essential stage for the performing arts in Santa Barbara well into the future.

As part of that acknowledgment, The Lobero Theatre Foundation’s Board is launching a $6 million endowment and capital campaign.

Endowment – Community
Access Fund (CAF) - $2.5 M

For 150 years, the Lobero Theatre has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the wonderful arts organizations that perform on its stage. The Community Access Fund (CAF) supports a vibrant arts scene and fosters a new generation of artists and audiences that will significantly impact the future of the industry. The CAF will allow the theater to meaningfully subsidize the community’s use of the Lobero, reducing their expenses and allowing them to focus their limited resources on production and audience development – thereby strengthening the health and growth of each organization.

Building Maintenance
Endowment - $2.5 M

The Lobero’s remarkable sesquicentennial represents a key milestone in the city’s cultural timeline. The building itself is the Lobero Theatre Foundation’s greatest asset and the main focus of its stewardship. The Building Maintenance Endowment ensures that a significant annual investment is made toward the building’s technical systems and historic aesthetics. Every effort will be made to prioritize maintaining state-of-the-art technology, while honoring the unique architectural design created by George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs. This vital fund will systematically reduce the need for a major capital campaign.

Capital Items - $1 M

Several major capital needs have developed since the last capital campaign in 2013, including a new LED lighting system and the addition of solar panels. Once the Building Maintenance Endowment is fully funded, it will be possible to address system upgrades on an annual basis. Immediate capital priorities include facility security measures, courtyard enhancement, exterior painting of the theater, stage floor replacement, PA (Public Address) system improvements, and green room refurbishment. These goals strengthen the Lobero Theatre’s capacity to serve its mission, while adding stability to its annual financial position.

Lobero Timeline

Grand Italian Operatic Concert
Grand Italian Operatic Concert

Giuseppe (Jose) Lobero’s Theatre has its official opening. Lobero’s Theatre is only the second opera house in California, and for more than a decade is the envy of Los Angeles.

Prof. S.S. Baldwin and Clara Baldwin
Prof. S.S. Baldwin and Clara Baldwin

In the late 1800’s, interest in Spiritualism is all the rage in America and the opera house is the ideal venue for performances catering both to believers
as well as skeptics.

Tennessee Jubilee Singers
Tennessee Jubilee Singers

After the Civil War, jubilee minstrel troupes made up of ex-slaves are popular performers at opera houses across America.

Roller Skating
Roller Skating

Roller skating is all the rage, and the Lobero removes theater chairs to provide a large rink for skaters to move in accompaniment to the sounds of a brass band.

John. L. Sullivan
John. L. Sullivan

The world’s first sports superstar boxer tries his hand at acting, appearing in the melodrama Honest Hearts and Willing Hands to a standingroom-only Lobero crowd.

Blind Tom
Blind Tom

Thomas Wiggins, born a slave on a Georgia plantation, is a piano touring sensation, playing both classical works and popular songs on stages worldwide.

Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony

From the 1890’s – 1910’s, the Lobero Opera House is an important venue for the women’s suffrage movement and all seats are filled when this famous women’s rights activist comes to speak.

W.C. Fields
W.C. Fields

A young W.C. Fields was considered the comedy juggler of his generation and visits the Lobero as part of the Great Orpheum Road Show – billed as the “eccentric tramp juggler.”

New Lobero Theatre
New Lobero Theatre

After the lights are turned off at the Lobero Opera House, the new Lobero Theatre, designed by George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs, premieres with the social satire Beggar on Horseback.

Clark Gable
Clark Gable

25-year-old Clark Gable appears at the Lobero, alongside veteran headliner Pauline Frederick, in the drama Lucky Sam Carver.

Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby

Will Morrissey’s Music Hall Revue comes to town – with pianist Al Rinker and the talented 23-year-old jazz crooner, Crosby – who specialize in interesting jazz rhythms and tricky harmonies.

Brett Hodges

Ovation Chair

Web developer and philanthropist Brett Hodges is a fifth generation Californian, who has lived in Santa Barbara since 1980. After growing up in West Los Angeles, he then attended college in England, where he received a degree in religious studies. Upon graduating, Brett wrote and produced educational and documentary films for schools and PBS, then went on to develop several websites. His RemedyFind site was one of the most active health communities on the web, and was sold in 2006 to Steve Case’s Brett’s current website, RightPet, helps pet owners find the health and wellness products and training methods which are right for their animals.

After enjoying countless diverse performances at the Lobero over the years, Brett eventually became a Lobero “superfan.” Having been introduced to the Lobero’s Board through his childhood friend, Board President Steve Hayes, Brett now serves as Ovation Chair and Chair of the Development Committee. He has also taken on the prodigious task of being the Lobero Theatre’s Historian, working on the theater’s archives and creating the Intermission Series blog posts. Brett has served on the board of his daughter’s school (Laguna Blanca School), and is currently a Santa Barbara Historical Museum board member. He is also involved with the local equine community and riding trails network. Through the WWW Foundation, Brett and his wife Natalie support a variety of educational and animal-focused charities. Their daughter, Lillie, who graduated from Middlebury College in 2016, is also honored to now be able to participate in the family foundation’s philanthropic ventures.

We Welcome Your
Ovation Celebration

To learn more about how to get involved, please
contact our Ovation Team:

Jim Dougherty

Ovation Coordinator and
Heritage Director

Brett Hodges

Ovation Chair

Brandon Mowery

Director of Development

Sylvie Monsivais

Assistant Director of Development