Relighting the Marquee

By Giving List Staff   |   January 2, 2021

You are sitting up front in the ornate Granada Theatre. It has been too long since you have had an experience like this. 

The motionless curtain tantalizes. Impatient for its revelations, you look around and up to the balcony: so many people (1,500) sharing the same exhilaration. You feel a richness coming back to life. Then–the curtain rises. 

For Hayley Firestone Jessup, the Granada’s vice president of advancement, that moment, when it comes, will be “relief, huge emotional relief.” 

State Street Ballet & SB Choral Society – “Carmina Burana” Granada Theatre 5/30/08

“It will be the lights, the sounds, the visuals, the excitement,” Firestone Jessup says breathlessly. “The beauty of live artists again. The color of the stage. The sound of the musicians.”

For Firestone Jessup and her colleagues, who have seen the theater’s staff drop from 35 to 10, the long months of the pandemic have made it all too apparent “that without music, theatre, and dance one’s life becomes incredibly flat.”

The theater itself is a beacon of culture for not only Santa Barbara, but the entire state and country. Following a top-to-bottom seismic upgrade and architectural restoration in 2008, the Granada was reborn as the downtown home for eight resident companies including the Opera Santa Barbara, The Santa Barbara Symphony, and State Street Ballet. 

To accommodate the varied performances showcased in the now 96-year-old venue required intensive alterations to what had most recently been a multiplex cinema. This included enlarging the stage for the opera, making the floor flexible for dancers, enhancing acoustics for the symphony, and widening the proscenium arch for Broadway tours. 

The result is a venue where Yo-Yo Ma, the Peking Acrobats, and the Beach Boys all find the amenities and high quality that bring them back time and time again.

Beyond the performances within the theater, the Granada provides Santa Barbara and the region with so much more. Tourists take selfies by the entrance of Santa Barbara’s highest “skyscraper” – the city’s icon of the performing arts and the cultural vibrancy to be found on this particular stretch of California’s coast.

“The Granada adds a dimension to the community life of Santa Barbara just by its presence, just by the lights on the marquee,” Firestone Jessup says. “While we have taken an intermission, we will be back!”


The Granada Theatre
Phone: (805) 899-3000 ext 130
Vice President of Advancement: Hayley Firestone Jessup


The Granada Theatre — owned and operated by the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts — serves Santa Barbara by providing a vibrant, state-of-the-art venue where world-class artistic performances are available to the widest possible audience, promoting appreciation for the performing arts and enhancing the quality of life in our community.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

Performance is Vital

“The Performing Arts remind us of our humanity and provide opportunities for creativity and virtuosity unique to humankind. We are deeply honored to be able to support The Granada Theatre as the heart and soul of Santa Barbara’s performing arts. During the shut down, we have been reminded just how vital live performance is in our lives and how much we miss The Granada Theatre. We cannot wait to be back in the audience experiencing the beauty and artistry from this historic stage.”
– Sarah and Roger Chrisman

Help Sustain the Granada through Challenging Times

Throughout its 97-year history, the Granada Theatre marquee has shone as a vibrant reminder of the cultural richness of Santa Barbara. With the forced closure of the theater during the pandemic, all performances have been canceled or postponed and the marquee has been dark. Your donation in support of the Granada Theatre during this vital time will sustain the organization through this challenging time. Please consider how you can help the Granada Theatre once again stand tall for the arts. With your help, and the support of the entire community, the theater will reopen, and we will Relight the Marquee.

Board of Directors

Palmer Jackson, Jr., Executive Chairman
Timothy Fisher, Vice Chair of the Board
Dan Burnham, Immediate Past Chair
Roberta Griffin, Treasurer
Blake Jones, Secretary
Jan Bowlus
Dan Burnham
Sarah Schlinger Chrisman
David Cronenbold
Brooks Firestone
Yvette Birch Giller
Charles C. Gray
Mark S. Manion
F. Robert Miller III
Leanne Schlinger
Merryl Snow Zegar

Emeritus Directors

Richard T. Caleel
Hal Conklin
Mary Tonetti Dorra
Patricia Gregory
Susan Miles Gulbransen*
David K. Hughes
L. Robert Johnson
Irma Jurkowitz
Chris Lancashire
Sara Miller McCune
Carrie Ohly-Cusack
Marla McNally Phillips
Joan Rutkowski
Sharol Siemens
Betty J. Stephens
Rob Sternin
Carol Wilburn

In Memoriam

Barry Berkus
Léni Fé Bland
Harriet Miller*
Michael Towbes
H. Wallace Vandever