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Tales from the Tannery

Film by Romney Dunbar profiling the artists, community, history and the development of the Tannery Arts Center.

The Tannery Arts Center

The Tannery Arts Center is a joint project developed by the City of Santa Cruz, Artspace Projects, Inc. a nationally acclaimed nonprofit developer of affordable space for artists and arts organizations and a local nonprofit, The Tannery Arts Center, Inc. a local nonprofit organization governed by a board of local leaders in the business, the public and the arts. The development project will provide living, working, display and educational spaces for artists, arts organizations and the community. The Tannery Arts Center will convert the historic Salz Tannery into an affordable home for the Arts in Santa Cruz County.


The Tannery Arts Center partnered with Artspace, Inc. to build 100 units of affordable housing for artists and their families at reasonable rates. Lofts have have high ceilings, durable surfaces and plenty of natural light and additional floor space to allow for a studio area.


Up to 35,000 square feet of working studio space were created by renovating the historic buildings of the old tannery factory. These studio spaces have high ceilings, durable surfaces and plenty of natural light.


The Performing Arts Center will complete the vision for a comprehensive arts campus by showcasing the rich diversity of artistic and cultural talent found throughout Santa Cruz County.

The Performing Arts Center will include:

Fully-equipped theater for local dance, drama, film and music performances, with seating for 230
New home for the nationally-recognized Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre
Open-air courtyard

This innovative and professional performance center will be small enough to host the intimate community theater performances unique to Santa Cruz and yet large enough to provide an alternative to the larger venues at the local college and university. It will be the crown jewel of the Tannery Arts Center and provide a needed venue to showcase the talent of our local dance, drama, film and music groups. In addition, the theater will provide the needed back stage and support areas such as dressing rooms, green rooms and storage areas lacking in other local community theaters.


The Tannery Arts Center will provide a permanent home for the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, a goal for the theatre since being relocated to temporary quarters following the earthquake in 1989. The Santa Cruz Ballet will build a ballet studio with three large dance studios, offices and support facilities in the historic Hide House. These dance studios will also be available to local dance groups for rehearsals.

Founded in 1978, Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre is comprised of a pre-professional company of dancers, ranging in ages from eight to twenty and chosen through open auditions annually. The company’s Artistic Directors, Robert Kelley and Diane Cypher, have many years of experience as professional dancers, choreographers and directors. Their successful careers as dancers, both solo and together, make them enthusiastic teachers and inspired directors.


Five buildings of historical significance will be preserved and the history of the tannery will be told through a collection of exhibits through out the Tannery Arts Center. 145 years of history will be displayed on the “Wall of History” and in exhibits integrated into the whole site.


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