2017 Student Watercolor

About The Arts Fund

Our Mission

The mission of The Arts Fund is to create, fund and administer programs and projects that foster the arts for the people of Santa Barbara County; to act as a catalyst which maximizes the effectiveness of arts resources and to nurture collaborative relationships with other arts organizations.


For more than 40 years The Arts Fund has been an incubator for emerging artists in Santa Barbara County.

Located in La Cumbre Plaza, we offer the only Community Gallery in the Santa Barbara area, showcasing the work of local artists of all ages and identities from the Santa Barbara region.

We stimulate the expansion of creativity by offering art education, professional development and curatorial training in studio and gallery environments to emerging artists including teenage, university and postgraduate students. We connect the greater community to local artists, curators and sponsors to celebrate and enrich our community’s cultural experience and creative possibilities.

As a founder of the Funk Zone Art Walk and participant in the La Cumbre Plaza Art Walk, we are the epicenter of the cultural explosion in the Santa Barbara area, collaborating with local businesses, artists and organizations.

Our Team

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The Organization is Founded

Originally incorporated as The County of Santa Barbara Art Associates, The Arts Fund was created in 1983 as a private, nonprofit corporation to promote, foster, and support art activities in Santa Barbara County and to facilitate the works of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission. The project was spearheaded by Shirley Dettmann and Joanne Holderman.

The Arts Fund Becomes Independent

In the late 1980s, The Arts Fund evolved into an independent organization with its current mission of offering art education, development and exhibition opportunities to aspiring artists and curators, as well as opportunities for Santa Barbara County residents to expand their appreciation for the wealth of local arts in our own community.

Creation of the Teen Arts Mentorship Program

In 1994, Mia Girard, then executive director, initiated what would evolve into the current Teen Arts Mentorship Program. This was made possible by support from the James Irvine Foundation.

Creation of the Public Art Program
40th Anniversary of The Arts Fund

The Arts Fund celebrated its 40th anniversary by holding the first Monster Drawing Rally in September.

Our Founders

Shirley Dettmann, Co-Founder

Joanne Holderman, Co-Founder