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Mary Ann Norbom


It’s the season for giving thanks. National Philanthropy Day is Nov. 15. Thanksgiving is Nov. 23. #GivingTuesday follows on Nov. 28.

Few of us fortunate enough to call the Santa Ynez Valley home would argue this is one of the country’s most generous communities. We give to our many nonprofit organizations, large and small, in any way we can. We volunteer our time and our talent, and we write checks. We give to support children and the elderly, health-care needs and the arts.

But with so many worthy causes in the Valley, how do you choose?

Solvang Theaterfest Inc. is the nonprofit organization that owns, operates and maintains the historic Solvang Festival Theater. We’d like to point out just how many great causes benefit when you send your support our way.

Solvang Festival Theater is famous as the summer home of Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA), which brings four productions each summer to our stage.

The dynamic 2018 lineup includes two musicals, “Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Mamma Mia!” and two Tony Award-winning plays, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and “Arcadia.” To have professional theater of this quality in our Valley is truly worth giving thanks for in itself.

But that’s only the start of it, and for locals who say, “Well, I never go to the theater,” there’s so much more to consider.

Music fans give thanks for our Jazz and Beyond concert series, where on four summer Sunday afternoons, they experience some of the most engaging performers on the West Coast while relaxing under the oaks in the garden.

Do you have a friend or family member being cared for at Friendship House? Then you benefit from Solvang Festival Theater. We’ve been the home of Nashville Nights — Friendship House’s most important annual fund-raiser — for more than a decade.

Do you have kids or grandkids at Santa Ynez Valley High School who are pursuing careers in the performing arts or are students at Los Olivos Dance Gallery? Solvang Festival Theater is home to their annual Raw Talent show and Centre Stage, respectively.

In September, did you come through the gates to hear the sounds of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller in a new show, Battle of the Big Bands? Did you have a foot-stompin’ good time with great country acts while supporting the Boy Scouts’ effort to rebuild the fire-ravaged Rancho Alegre?

In October, did you float into the uniquely quirky and fun Faeriefest? Were you one of the 2,000 locals who had their wits scared out of them in an epic Haunted House?

If you answered “yes” to any of this, you benefited from Solvang Festival Theater.

It’s actually hard to imagine the Santa Ynez Valley without Solvang Festival Theater. There is no other venue between Los Angeles and San Francisco that offers such a variety of original entertainment in an open-air setting, and is also so affordable for nonprofit organizations wanting to put on their own events.

So, give thanks. Your support helps ensure our future for you and generations to come. See you at the theater.

Solvang Festival Theater is at 420 2nd St., Solvang. Mailing address: P.O. Box 917, Solvang, CA 93464. Website:

Mary Ann Norbom is executive director of Solvang Theaterfest.