SANTA YNEZ, CA – The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation has announced a $150,000 matching grant commitment to the Lompoc Theatre Project, which aims to restore and revitalize the city’s nearly 100-year-old venue.
The Lompoc Theatre has sat dormant since 1991, but the non-profit group behind the restoration project has a fundraising campaign in place with a plan to ultimately reopen the facility near its 100th birthday in 2027 and bring movies, concerts, live performances, and a variety of other social events back to the venue. The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has committed to a dollar-for-dollar match up to $150,000 raised by the Lompoc Theatre Project.
“This is a project that can revitalize that stretch of downtown Lompoc and become a hub for entertainment in the area,” said Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “We are proud to support efforts that foster community enrichment through the arts and have the potential to bring together people from diverse backgrounds.”
The Lompoc Theatre, located in the heart of Lompoc near the corner of Ocean Avenue and H Street, showed its last film and closed in 1991. In April 2012, Mark Herrier, the Executive Director of the Lompoc Theatre Project, and a 13-member board of directors became the fourth group to attempt to bring the once prominent facility back to life.
“It’s going to change lives,” said Herrier. “This theater was the pride and joy of this town. People were so proud of it. Slowly but surely, it has come to represent a Lompoc that has fallen on hard times. The hard-working people who live here do much of the heavy lifting that benefits the entire county, but they don’t have a single entertainment center of their own. This empty theater has been a symbol of the decline – now it will become the engine for its renaissance.”
The current project is in its second of three phases, with the committee’s sights set on finishing phase two in June 2025 when it reaches a $3 million fundraising milestone, which will allow the group to host a 99-person audience. The final phase of the project is slated to be complete in 2027, just shy of Lompoc Theatre’s 100th birthday, when the committee aims to reach its $10 million fundraising mark. Once this final phase is complete, the theater will be able to welcome guests through its front doors and host a full audience, as it did when the doors were first opened in 1927.
“We will continue to do movies and we will be recreating Saturday matinees for this new generation of kids,” said Herrier. In addition to showing movies, the plan is for the space to host live music, concerts, stand-up comedy, salsa dancing, cultural events, political debates, holiday parties, public forums, art and film festivals and Spanish language movie nights.
“There will be something for every single person in town,” said Herrier. “Lompoc is proudly the most diverse community in Santa Barbara County and that diversity will be represented in our programming. The kids in town will feel like this is their stage.”
Between now and the theater’s 2027 reopening goal, there are major interior and exterior restoration projects planned, including roofing, structural, foundational, seating, painting, flooring, walls, electrical system, lighting, fire sprinklers, a resurfaced parking lot, and a retrofitted basement, to name a few.
“Our first year of fundraising we made $4,000,” said Herrier. “Where we are now with this grant from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is game-changing.”