SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures typically brings leaders, speakers, historical figures and artists into Santa Barbara theaters for live events.
The pandemic has forced the organization to pivot to virtual shows and events, but Deputy Director Meghan Bush says the mission to "educate, entertain and inspire" is "more important than ever."
"To reach people, to give them an opportunity to laugh, to cry, to discuss how they're feeling, to hear from the experts," Bush said of the organization's goals.
"I think right now we're all really just searching for answers," she added. "There's so much unknown. There's so much polarization. A lot of times we're talking, and we're not listening. You see that on social media. You see it in the news. I think the thing that's really missing is a dialogue.
"When you bring in the expert on the topic, it really gives you that insight to feel like you can play a part in addressing the issues that are affecting us all today."
One of those issues that Bush mentions is the epidemic of racism in America.
A winter 'Race to Justice' series focuses on understanding and confronting racism. Among several speakers, it features Minniejean Brown-Trickey, one of the members of the Little Rock Nine who famously was part of the Little Rock Central High School integration in 1957.
A 'House Calls' series features conversations with industry leaders and humanitarians, such as Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and chef José Andrés, along with musical performances.
“It’s not all about being an activist or being an advocate,” Bush said. “It’s ok to want to be entertained right now, it’s ok to want to laugh. And it’s ok to want to listen to beautiful music. In fact, it makes the world a better place.”
Tickets for the live virtual events are generally $10 and can then be viewed afterward by those who bought tickets. One advantage to the virtual events is that there is no limit to how many can join the audience.
Private donors have helped the organization fund the virtual shows once the pandemic began.
For a full schedule or more information about tickets and donations, you can visit the UCSB Arts & Lectures website.