Ray Estrada’s Business Report sponsored by SYNERGY Business & Technology Center
‘Funk Zone’ Rumblings Are Getting Louder
After years of neglect, rumbling can be heard in Santa Barbara’s “Funk Zone” that is aimed at preserving the seaside district’s artistic feel while making it commercially viable.
Nathan Vonk, president of the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, said a daylong Oct. 6 “Focus on the Funk Zone” is being planned to explore the many nooks and crannies of the district, which has not had a hey day for almost two decades.
“We’re going to focus on the Funk Zone’s history, its many components and what makes it what it is,” Vonk said in an interview. “We would like to see it as a ‘sub-destination’ for Santa Barbara.” Vonk said he’s in charge of the Oct. 6 art gallery tours.
While preserving its arty character, Vonk said it should be possible that a tourist from Los Angeles could take the train to the Santa Barbara Amtrak station and spend an entire weekend in the Funk Zone. Of course in these post-redevelopment agency funding days, the private sector must be called upon to provide the boost such an endeavor require.
That’s part of the reason for the October event. “Our job is to change minds,” Vonk said. He said Oct. 6’s multiple tours will resemble a Downtown Organization First Thursday, with food and drink provided by the growing number of eateries and wine tasting rooms in the Funk Zone.
The Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Center is promoting Epicure Santa Barbara throughout October and the Funk Zone tours will be a part of it.
“This is about taking a disused neighborhood and turning it into a space that is unique and creative,” Vonk said. “We want to make it another reason to come to Santa Barbara.
Meanwhile, a design charrette process is under way to present a model of what a future a Funk Zone might look like.
The two-month process, which has grant funds from the Santa Barbara Foundation, will propose solutions to preserve and enhance the art-friendly aspects of the Funk Zone even as demolition of the once fabled California Hotel is under way to make way for another structure in the area know as La Entrada on State Street.
Vonk said the rumblings in the Funk Zone began in earnest about nine months ago when some artists, designers and architects met with city officials, including Mayor Helene Schneider, who is an avid art supporter.
In case anyone is wondering, Vonk and many Funk Zone activists are not thinking of changing the district’s name, even though some newcomers don’t like it. It’s part of the neighborhood’s “organic” quality, he said.
NAWBO Summer Social is Aug. 23
The Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners will have its annual Summer Social from 5:30 to 7: 30 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Santa Barbara Club, 1105 Chapala St.
The public is invited to socialize with business leaders and learn why NAWBO-SB is the area’s fastest-growing business group.
The evening’s menu ranges from a taco station to paprika-infused watermelon. Entertainment will be provided by Nebula Dance Co. and the Santa Barbara Youth Academy. Wine tasting will be provided by Consilience Winery. Wine and jewelry prizes will be raffled off.
Pre-registration price for admission is $40 available at nawbo-sb.com. Tickets are $50 at the door.
NAWBO-SB is a nonprofit organization for women who own all or part of their businesses and is dedicated to helping members interact with other women entrepreneurs, to create economic strength, to grow their businesses, to create alliances and to transform public policy.
SBHCC Chamber Mixer Set for Aug. 22
The Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Sterling Properties are hosting a business networking mixer from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at 2600 De La Vina St.
The cost is $5 for chamber members and $10 for nonmembers and guests. Food, raffles and prizes will be offered. For more information, contact Drew Wakefield at (805) 964-3511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.