By Veronica Sandoval

Contributing Writer

In front of a sold-out crowd to see country music legend Clint Black perform at the Solvang Festival Theater, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians announced a $100,000 matching grant to support the popular venue’s campaign to fund its renovation project.

For 45 years, the open-air Solvang Festival Theater has featured productions by the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA), showcased music festivals and concerts by top talent, and hosted community events for local nonprofit organizations.

To sustain its vibrant legacy, the Solvang Theaterfest Board of Directors has launched Imagine! Building The Future, The $4.7 Million Capital Campaign for Solvang Festival Theater to improve infrastructure, increase accessibility and upgrade the technical capacity at the 700-seat venue.

“The Solvang Festival Theater provides a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience for Central Coast theatergoers, and its performances have been enriching lives in our community for nearly 50 years,” said Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

“As the organization looks to the community to help fund needed renovations, our tribe is proud to support the Solvang Theaterfest board’s efforts and make sure the venue remains a source of quality entertainment in the Santa Ynez Valley,” he said.

The PCPA summer season is the theater’s primary attraction, with professional performances of plays and musicals performed nightly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Since its first summer in the Solvang Festival Theater in 1974, PCPA has given 3,146 performances of 242 productions of plays and musicals for an estimated audience of more than 1.3 million.

“The small community of Solvang came together 45 years ago to build a 700-seat theater. Their goal was to enrich lives in the valley and to make the valley a destination for visitors,” said Ann Foxworthy Lewellen, vice president of the Solvang Theaterfest Board of Directors and chair of the capital campaign.

“The theater has more than fulfilled that promise with its ever-expanding and diversified role as a hub of entertainment and exciting attractions. From Halloween Haunted Houses, to My Fair Lady, to great performers such as Clint Black, the theater is more vital and reaches more lives than ever,” she said.

“Solvang Theaterfest, now in need of a renewed community investment, greatly appreciates the generous support of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians,” she said.

In 2018, some 29,000 patrons attended PCPA performances, and 10,000 attended Solvang Theaterfest concerts and other performances, including those presented by nonprofit organizations. Now, the 45-year-old facility requires structural improvements.

The renovation plans include a complete replacement of the rear wall and walkway of the theater surrounding audience seating, and construction of an 8-foot-higher wall behind the audience with cantilevered panels to block wind, capture more warmth and buffer external noise.

Plans also call for new stairs, a wheelchair ramp and a new entrance to audience seating, in addition to technological upgrades that will enhance the viewing experience. Once the funding goal is reached, construction time on the project is estimated at eight to 10 months.

For more information on the capital campaign and how to donate, call 805-686-1789 or email

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has donated more than $25 million to hundreds of groups, organizations and schools in the community and across the nation as part of the tribe’s long-standing tradition of giving.