Every diverse, culturally connected community is accompanied by the arts. In and around the Santa Maria Valley, an appreciation for the arts is no exception. In fact, it is one in a handful of hidden gems that the region has to offer visitors from all over.
Here are the top 10 reasons to check out the arts in the Santa Maria Valley.
- PCPA – For more than five decades, PCPA (Pacific Conservatory Theater for the Performing Arts) has been committed to reflecting and transforming the Santa Maria Valley community with the art of live theater. Each season boasts a lineup of entertaining and thought-provoking plays, musicals and performances. If you’re in town during one of these performances, be sure to add it to your itinerary. Allan Hancock College is the home to PCPA.
- PCPA Solvang – There’s no better way to enjoy the arts under the stars at the 700-seat outdoor theater in Solvang. The season typically lasts from Memorial Day weekend to one week after Labor Day. The company offers four productions each summer. Visitors will embark in a four-decade tradition of embracing live theater in this charming town.
- The Great American Melodrama & Vaudeville – Just a few miles from Pismo Beach in Oceano, this venue is chock-full of fun and entertainment. Each night there is a two act play – typically a comedy, musical or spoof – followed by an original vaudeville revue stuffed with song, dance and comedy. As the theatre’s name suggests, many shows are performed in a classic melodramatic style, with patrons encouraged to cheer the hero and boo the villain. An evening at the Melodrama is sure to bring laughs for all ages.
- Betteravia Gallery – With exhibitions free to the public, the Betteravia Art Gallery is the place for visitors who want to take home a piece of original (and often affordable!) art. Choose from a range of media at the Betteravia Gallery North and Betteravia Gallery South. These cooperative art galleries are located at 511 E. Lakeside Parkway in the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Center in Santa Maria. The galleries specialize in local artists, some of whom are nationally renowned.
- Museums, museums, museums – The Santa Maria Valley has no shortage of wonderful experiences for museum-goers. Children love the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, featuring hands-on educational exhibits based on local themes, including agriculture, aerospace and the environment. According to 2 Travel Dads, “When you visit a #childrensmuseumin every town you drive through you see the same stuff to captivate #kids. But not here!” Other local museums include the Natural History Museum and the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society Museum. The Santa Maria Museum of Flight features planes, models, photos, memorabilia and exhibits, including a restored F4 fighter jet that served in Vietnam. The museum also features several Hollywood movie props, including an H-1 Racer from The Aviator, a full-scale Wright glider from Winds of Kitty Hawk and an original wooden hangar from The Rocketeer.
- The Santa Maria Arts Council – The Arts Council encourages and supports emerging artists through its individual grants in the arts competition. In 2017, it disbursed $13,000 in the fields of music, drama, dance and visual arts. There’s no better way than to inspire and retain talent in the area by supporting the expansion of the arts since 1965.
- The Clark Center for the Performing Arts – Offering a diverse world of creative arts, The Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande consists of two state-of-the art theatres, the 617-seat Forbes Hall, and the approximately 120-seat Studio Theatre. The Grand Lobby is also a gallery for local artists, and the new Annex addition is home to a beautiful green room and scene shop. Everybody CAN Dance and the Santa Maria Civic Ballet dance here, too.
- Santa Maria Philharmonic Society – Led by Maestro Michael Nowak and Concertmistress Sharon Cooper, the Philharmonic hits all the high notes with lovely classical music concerts each season. Among the many notable films conducted by Michael Nowak are Academy Award winning Life of Pi, King Kong, Under the Tuscan Sun, Bobby, American Gangster, Disney’s Bedtime Stories and The Kite Runner. He currently conducts the highly popular ABC show, Once Upon A Time.
- Find a venue for live music – Whether you’re at Ca’ Del Grevino on a Wednesday night, Presqui’le Winery during warm summer nights, or catching a cool concert at the Santa Maria Fairpark, nothing beats listening to some tunes and taking in the art of live music.
- Valley Art Gallery – See the work of local artists in this quaint Orcutt gallery. Partake in year-round art classes, lectures and demonstrations for children and adults. Their works are also displayed in the Santa Maria airport.
In the Santa Maria Valley, there’s so much to do from here. The recipe for our way of life requires simplicity, and a touch of art and soul. Hit the road and explore all you can do in and around Santa Maria Valley. You’ll find it’s the perfect home base, where you can eat, drink, dance and do more for less.