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Groundbreaking Ceremony Celebrates New Beginnings For VADA

The Visual Arts and Design Academy (VADA) community has been long awaiting the construction of new classrooms that reflect the artistic passion of its students! In the past months, there has been construction where the VADA parking lot and classrooms used to be, where they were breaking ground and paving the way for a new future for VADA. This is the beginning of construction for a new VADA Studio and Design Lab that is expected to be in use by Spring of 2024. However, this project has been in the works for years. So much time, effort, and financial donations have been contributed to the structure.

The groundbreaking ceremony occurred on the 12th of April to commemorate the construction of the modern structure. The building will be an inviting home for the arts that encourages VADA students to create more freely. The building will be 3,350 square feet with specialized rooms that focus on certain mediums like photography, mixed media, and studio space with new technology.

Daniel Barnett, director of VADA, has bright expectations for what is to come. Barnett believes that the groundbreaking is important because it, “…is an important marker, honoring about 5 years of intense work and effort to achieve the goal of creating a new home for VADA students and to celebrate our community’s vital support of art and creativity in our school.” VADA’s legacy deserves to be housed in a building that is just as great as its community. Barnett states, “This new space has been purpose built with direct guidance from our industry partners such as Patagonia, Deckers and Adobe. The new VADA Studio and Design Lab serves as a beacon: a symbol for the vital importance of art in our city and commitment to invest in our students.”  

The VADA groundbreaking ceremony featured many Santa Barbara politician appearances such as Laura Capps and Oscar Gutierrez, both of which expressed their appreciation for the VADA and the uplifting community. Santa Barbara School District’s Superintendent, Hilda Maldonado spoke, as well as principal Elise Simmons, and Daniel Barnett. The overall expression of gratitude was heartwarming. It took years to organize and push for this development. Thanks were extended to the industry partners who supported the grant for funding, friends of VADA, community members, and volunteers.

Thanks to these people, students will be able to further their interests in ways that they couldn’t before. The students in the crowd at the ceremony were thanked for their aspirations and creativity that keep the VADA alive. All of this investment is completely worth it because VADA students are worth investing in. Art is worth investing in.  Students are appreciative of the community’s effort to better the academy. VADA Senior, Lena Szerwo, states that she is, “…super excited for VADA to have a new space that reflects the heart of the program and prioritizes art! A clean modern space I think will help students feel like their art matters more. It’s easy to feel a bit forgotten in older buildings or frustrated with the lack of access to tech and studio space. An actual campus will give VADA a more unified feel as well!” The new building will give students the space and resources to thrive artistically in comparison to the past. The VADA Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors will be able to use this space in the upcoming school years and the spirit of alumni will be memorialized.

Daniel Barnett, Hilda Maldonado, Elise Simmons, and other VADA Contributors at the VADA groundbreaking ceremony

[Image Credits: Ella Bailey]


  • Ella Bailey

    Ella is a VADA Senior here at SBHS. She was born and has roots in Sweden and moved to Santa Barbara when she was young. She chose to become a contributor to The Forge because she enjoys writing creatively and analytically in her free time. She loves to write about arts and culture, and hopes to bring her artistic passion to The Forge.

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