Founded in 1988, Sebastopol Center for the Arts began in one small office, located inside of the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce. Linda Galletta, now retired Executive Director, was its sole full-time employee. Linda, along with a small group of dedicated residents, collaborated to form a community arts organization that would be focused on offering a wide range of high quality programs in all areas of the arts. A Board of Directors was formed, comprised of members of the business community, as well as a number of working artists. Programs for children, such as “Summertime Arts & Crafts Workshop,” were especially popular.
With very limited space in the early years, SCA utilized various “pop-up” venues around town for displaying visual arts exhibits.
SCA then moved to a larger space, located in the basement of the local Methodist Church. It was there that SCA created its first gallery and classroom. In 1993, SCA sponsored the first Sing-A-Long Concert of Handel’s Messiah in the upstairs sanctuary of the Church- an annual event that continues to this day.
The “A Frame,” or Laguna Park Way, as it was called, would be SCA’s next home. There, members of the community were treated to more Visual, Performing, Literary and Educational programming.
SCA then moved to 6780 Depot Street, a 9,200 square foot space in what is now known as The Barlow. With that came further expansion in programming, to include a Music and Movement Studio, as well as a Ceramics Studio and upgraded Visual Arts Gallery. Board member and building contractor, Harvey Charnofsky was instrumental in managing the extensive remodel of the facility.
In 1998, SCA sponsored a talented group of local sculptors, who organized “Sculpture Jam,” a collaborative effort to promote sculpture as an artform and make these works accessible to the public. Sculpture Jam became a widely popular annual event, a tradition that lasted many years. For more information about the history of Sculpture Jam, please click HERE.
In 2007, the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival debuted, ultimately developing into a well respected documentary film festival which attracts participants from the local, national and international filmmaking community. It has been named, “One of the 25 coolest film festivals by Movie Maker Magazine.” Board member Cynthi Stefenoni would later become SDFF’s Producer and Board member Jean McGlothlin, SDFF’s Director of Programming.
In 2009, “The Store” began, when a generous shop owner donated display cases to SCA. A compact retail space was carved out of a tiny section of the main gallery. Its goal was to be a showcase for the array of merchandise created by our talented artist members. Board member, Jean McGlothlin was its original founder. For more information about The Store at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, please click HERE.
Then already well established as Sebastopol’s successful and thriving community arts organization, SCA began its search for much larger quarters in 2010, a time when Sonoma County was struggling with budget woes in the wake of a major economic downturn, yet responsible for maintaining several aging and under-utilized veterans buildings countywide. Downtown Sebastopol’s 17,800 square foot Veterans Memorial Building, a longtime community hall and meeting place, was a natural fit for SCA- and so became one of the best partnerships to come out of the devastating economic downturn.
The support for SCA and its move to the Veterans Building was so positive that SCA was able to successfully raise $800,000 to renovate the iconic building, further enhancing the use of the historic facility and enabling SCA to provide Sonoma County with even more robust arts programming. The partnership agreement between SCA and the County, as well as the renovation of the building, was primarily overseen by then Board President, Robert Brent.
The extensive renovation to the gallery and auditorium included adding movable 10’ gallery walls around the perimeter, acoustical panels in the ceiling, LED track lighting, new light fixtures, a video projector with surround sound speakers, theatrical LED stage light fixtures and sound and lighting boards. The original meeting room at the south end of the building was divided to create two working studios/classrooms, the John O’Hare Studio, uniquely developed for SCA’s comprehensive Ceramics and Sculpture programs, and the other for Painting, Drawing, Weaving and other arts programming.
In December of 2012, Sebastopol Center for the Arts celebrated its grand opening in the newly renovated Veterans Memorial Building.
Additional office space was built, the Joan Marler Dance Studio and the Frank and Patricia Schueler South Patio were later constructed. The Little Red Hen Dining Room was also remodeled in 2016-2017, to include full length doors leading out to the newly built Ron and Beverly Judd Patio.
The Brent Auditorium continues to serve as a vibrant venue for musical performances, the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival (SDFF) (sebastopolfilmfestival.org), literary arts events, art exhibitions and community gatherings.
The Galletta Gallery offers three outstanding exhibit spaces for featuring works by local, regional, national and internationally recognized artists. Juried, invitational and curated exhibits vary throughout the year- changing, on average, every five weeks.
SCA also sponsors two open studio programs in Sonoma County, Art Trails (sonomacountyarttrails.org) and Art at the Source (artatthesource.org), as well as the Fine Arts and Street Printing Festival (for more information click HERE).
Through the years, programs and events such as Art and Iron, Sculpture in the Gardens, Word Temple and Art Walk have also been sponsored by SCA.
The historic building is also used by groups including the North Bay Association of Realtors, American Association of Retired Persons, Art Workshop of West Sonoma County, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Art for Life, Sonoma County Election Dept., and the annual Apple Blossom Festival (appleblossomfest.com).
The Brent Auditorium, The Little Red Hen Dining Room with spacious commercial kitchen and the newly built Ron and Beverly Judd Patio are routinely rented for meetings and community events, as is the Fireside Room.
To this day, SCA continues to be the proud home of VFW Post #3919 and the VFW Post #3919 Auxiliary and remains dedicated to honoring our veterans’ service to country.
In August of 2017, longtime Executive Director Linda Galletta retired after three decades, having led SCA from its inception to its status today as a major civic institution in West County.
In October of 2017, Anjana Utarid was appointed Executive Director of Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Under her capable leadership, SCA is poised to expand its contribution to the arts in Sonoma County and beyond.
From where it began in 1988… to now…
SCA is profoundly grateful to its founders and the numerous donors, volunteers, Staff and Board members who, through the years, have made it all possible.
In turn, we remain committed to our mission…
“Enriching Lives Through the Arts”