Backstage Stories

The Gift of Theater

December 27, 2023

The Gift of Theater

The Gift of Theater

Since opening in 1924 The Granada Theatre has given back to the community through the gift of the performing arts.

In its opening year, The Granada Theatre offered complimentary tickets for its Christmas Dream Yuletide Phantasy program to underprivileged children. In 1927 the holiday show was offered free to any underprivileged family that brought a letter from “Associated Charities” to the box office. The philanthropy continued throughout the decades with police benefit performances and complimentary shows for children.

“The Granada Theatre has always seen itself as a part of the fabric of the community and providing access to the arts for all our neighbors was important to the theater,” said Caren Rager, Executive Director and President of The Granada Theatre. “When The Granada was relaunched, it was important that we honor our philanthropic history and continue to support the arts for everyone in the Santa Barbara region.”


Giving Back Today

Today, The Granada Theatre doesn’t limit its philanthropic outreach to only the holiday season.  Community Access Ticketing (CAT) is a program designed to provide economically constrained populations with dramatically reduced-priced tickets for performances throughout the year at The Granada. The theater works with two dozen community organizations that serve low-income families, students, teachers, caregivers, and veterans. Over 700 tickets are distributed each year.

“The Granada Theatre believes that the entire Santa Barbara community should have access to live arts regardless of economic status, and the CAT program exists to provide this access to participating organizations,” said Rager. “The benefits of live art are vast, including expanding viewer imagination, providing a safe space for expression of emotion, and offering unique perspectives from various communities and cultures.”

The CAT program is funded through grants that create a pool of funds that allows The Granada to purchase blocks of tickets for different shows. These tickets are then distributed to the partner organizations so they can sell them to their community. Performances at The Granada are normally priced $40-250. Most of the CAT tickets are sold for $5-$25.

“We don’t give the tickets away because part of the CAT program is to reinforce the understanding and appreciation that live arts performances have monetary value requiring support, and to enhance the investment and ownership experience for the theatergoer,” explained Rager.

The proceeds from ticket sales are used by the partner organization as each sees fit.

The CAT program allows The Granada Theatre to give back to the community by offering everyone in the community new cultural opportunities that foster understanding, innovation, and creativity. It continues the 100-year tradition of The Granada bringing quality arts programming to the Santa Barbara community.