Photo credit: Barbara Parmet

The Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative presents our second beta round of :

Community Art Workshops


At the CAW in our second semester of Community Art Workshops we are offering classes that refresh and inspire, that teach new ways of attention, ideation, communication, and emotional nuance. This second semester we’ve got classes in poetry, storytelling, drawing, public art, and imagination. 


100% of our first semester of students said they would recommend the program to others. 89% of them rated the quality of teaching 5/5 (“Excellent”) and the other 11% gave it 4/5. 


Come be a part of it. We’ve got eight week classes, four week classes, and drop-in classes, all at different times to fit around your schedule. We offer scholarships. 

Participants last time said:


  • “I felt truly stretched... it was amazing to feel myself growing in the process and seeing how other class members were growing in leaps and bounds.”

  • “Wonderful project which inspires art and community connection. It is a gift to listen to other peoples’ stories, to learn from experts in town, and be a part of community work.”

  • “This was a community building experience for each of us. Phenomenal.”


Come take a class!

The Workshops:

Words to Survive Winter: a Poetry Workshop

Taught by Rick Benjamin

In this workshop we will be spending eight weeks together working with and through a wisdom medium designed to help us pay attention, to bear witness to what is happening around us in both our own lives and in the non-human, ecological world, and to advance our own thinking while becoming increasingly suspicious of the time it might take to do so.  Workshop participants can expect ritualist prompting by other poems and poets designed to spur their own creative process, as well as a highly productive workshop in which they will produce at least sixteen poems in eight weeks (yes, an ambitious number, but one which takes into account both "fast and loose" and "simmering" in equal measure; I will explain this— promise!).

Time: Monday nights, 5:30pm-7:30pm, January 27-March 16 (8 classes total). 

Cost: $300

Ages 17 and up

14 participants max

For more information e-mail Rick Benjamin at

Storytelling Workshop

Taught by Joseph Velasco

Storytelling is possibly the oldest form of theater. All of us are storytellers in some way. We cannot interact with other human beings without listening, telling, reading, or watching a story on a daily basis. Stories are a way for us to make sense of the world around us. Listening, observing, remembering, and practicing what we have learned are primary ways that all people learn basic life skills from early childhood on. Consider all the things you have learned in your life. From braiding hair to swimming to tying shoes to learning to read and write; people teach each other many things as people have always done. Human interaction is an important part of learning. In a multi-media world where paper is almost forgotten, phones, cameras, computers, and the internet can easily document events and ideas, the need to have a good memory and tell a story is becoming obsolete. Yet, despite the encroachment of modern media, the need for good storytelling remains relevant. Stories are how we hold a collective consciousness in our own families and community.


This workshop for 8-12 people, ages 16+,  and will explore the process of telling a story to a live audience. Students will learn a variety of techniques including observation, vocalization, movement, mime, soundscapes, and how to make a story their own. Students should bring in stories they would like to tell from myths, folktales, or personal stories and wear comfortable clothes they can move in. Students will be led in a variety of exercises to help explore the craft of telling a story and to best present that story as a solo storyteller to a receptive audience.

Time: Thursday nights, 5:30pm-8pm, February 6 - March 26. (8 classes total.) 

Cost: $300 

Ages 16 and up

12 participants max

For more information e-mail Joseph Velasco at

Comments from 1st Semester Storytelling participants:

  • "It was a phenomenal experience - Joe is an amazing and truly inspiring teacher. Everyone in our class grew in some way as a story teller and I would say as a human being."

  • “For Storytelling, I was amazed that over a short period of time we were able to learn about theater, body awareness, story crafting, editing, writing, speaking and presenting all at one time.”

  • "I also learned to be more confident in myself, embracing new challenges and risking more in performing in front of people."

Drop-in Class

Drawing from Life and Death

Taught by Patrick Melroy


Students will be guided in observational drawing from objects in real life. Subjects will include, but not be limited to, the human figure, objects from home, things that are curvy, things that are flat sided, things that cast shadows, things that breath, and of course dogs. Students will explore mark making with a variety of drawing tools and non-drawing tools. Students will be encouraged to draw in new and exciting ways while maintaining their existing strengths. Students will learn a portion of the vast technical process of creating two dimensional images.

This class is a drop in format, with bulk punch cards available.


Time: Wednesday nights, 6pm-9pm, February 5 - February 26 to start, more to be added. 

Punch cards:

  • 4 classes for $70

  • 8 classes for $130 

Single class $20 at the door.

Ages 18 and up, or younger with a signed parental permission form.

For more information e-mail Patrick Melroy

High Intensity Imagination Training

Taught by Patrick Melroy


This workshop will engage participants in imagination. We will develop techniques to encourage constant idea production inside any practice. 


This workshop is for people working in any field—from marketing & design, to tech and entrepreneurship, to the business-minded creative who has been hiding behind a desk for years. This class will be an exploration of the ideas you have that don’t make sense, ideas that expand our understanding of what is capable. Weekly assignments will involve physical projects made from the limitless imaginations of each participant, both solo and in collaboration. 


Time: Friday afternoons, 1pm-4pm, February 7 - 28. (4 classes total.) 

Cost: $180 

Ages 16 and up

For more information e-mail Patrick Melroy

Public Art 2020

Taught by Patrick Melroy


This class will focus on generating good public art. Students will experience the full cycle of public art making. This course will involve: the idea generation process, site planning, shareholder negotiation, curator involvement, proposal process, funding, community engagement, and grant application.


Students will submit several proposals for public art projects both locally and nationally. This will involve model making and mockups. Students will learn a portion of the vast technical process of creating public art.

Time: Friday afternoons, 1pm-4pm, March 6 - 27. 
Cost: $180 
Ages 16 and up

For more information e-mail Patrick Melroy

Comments from 1st Semester students about classes with Patrick Melroy:

  • "This took me completely out of my normal art practice and was very satisfying."

  • "Artists tend to work alone, so it is great to work with other artists, meet new artists, try new media. It is valuable to be exposed to how other artists think, especially Patrick."

  • "I learned that I could have only a small clue as to how to proceed and really work through the process even with new materials​."

  • "Patrick Melroy is a fabulous teacher."

Teacher Bios

RICK BENJAMIN currently teaches at UCSB, the Goleta Boys & Girls Club, at an assisted living center, and in many schools and community centers, taking seriously the idea that the obligation of working in a wisdom medium involves circulating it as widely as possible &, always, while building relationships in community with others while doing so. He is the former state poet laureate of Rhode Island, a small state with a long lineage.

JOSEPH VELASCO is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and began his career with the renowned Chicano theater company, El Teatro Campesino as a resident director. He went on to study physical theater at the international Estudio Busqueda de Pantomima Teatro in Guanjuato, Mexico and later joined James Donlon & Company in creating original movement theatre works including the award-winning WRENCH. A co-founder of BOXTALES Theatre Company, Joseph has worked in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco as well as with various local theatre groups including the Lobero Theater, Access Theatre, Speaking of Stories, and the Ensemble Theatre Company. He currently teaches English at Santa Barbara High School and continues to be a storyteller as a solo artist. He is also the former Artistic Director for City at Peace Santa Barbara which uses the performing arts to empower youth through creating original theater.

PATRICK MELROY holds an MFA from UCSB where he taught for several years as a lecturer. He has taught classes and workshops at SBCC, College of Creative Studies, Marymount, Laverne University, Stanford, and UCLA. His work most often manifests as idea based interactive sculpture. He utilizes any material that best serves the project. He draws influence from tactile daily experiences and manifests a creative vocabulary that utilizes familiar sentimental interactions. His work was recently seen in the State of the Art Gallery and during special events at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He grew up with a carpenter father and teacher librarian mother.


Want to teach with us? E-mail Casey Caldwell at

The CAW is a project of the

Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative

Non-profit Tax ID: 27-3262168

The Community Arts Workshop is funded in part by the Organizational Development Program using funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture.