.Best of Santa Cruz County 2021: Arts & Culture

Find out what readers voted as the best among arts and culture.

Best Dance Lessons

Tannery Arts Center

  1. During quarantine, dance teachers have given students a chance to build confidence, leadership skills and the ability to glide across the floor.
  2. Has been providing affordable space to artists and dancers for over 10 years.
  3. Focusing mainly on youth, their programs in the spring will be a hybrid of in-person and outdoor classes.
  4. Learn ballet, modern, jazz, and hip-hop, choreography and video performance with some of the best teachers in the state.
  5. Their amazing Diaspora Performance Project gives voice to Artists of the African Diaspora and makes deep and meaningful connections to our community. DNA

Best Festival

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music

  1. America’s longest-running festival of new orchestral music returns virtually this summer, during two weekends in August.
  2. Musical conductor Cristian Măcelaru was born in Timisoara, Romania, and has conducted orchestras all over the world.
  3. The festival’s 2021 virtual season is free to the public and features dance, photography, video and animation.
  4. For 58 years, the festival has highlighted emerging and preeminent composers.
  5. A special work this year combining the talents of composer Sean Shepherd and National Geographic photographer Camille Seamen reflects on the resilience of a forest after wildfire.  DNA

Best Poet

Ellen Bass

  1. Bass studied with Pulitzer-Prize-winner Anne Sexton at Boston University.
  2. Her book Courage to Heal is an international bestseller and has been called the bible of the survivor’s movement.
  3. In 2013, Bass founded the Poetry Program at Salinas Valley State Prison, which offers weekly workshops to incarcerated men.
  4. One of her favorite poems she has written is called “Ode to a Pork Chop.”
  5. Bass lives in Santa Cruz with her wife Janet Bryer. DNA

Art Event

Capitola Art & Wine Festival


secure document shredding

RUNNERS-UP Open Studios Art Tour, First Friday

Art Gallery (Retail)

Artisans & agency

1368 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 

423-8183, artisanssantacruz.com

RUNNERS-UP Radius Gallery, R. Blitzer Gallery

Artist (Local)

Marie Gabrielle


RUNNERS-UP Ed Penniman, Lauren Ringelman

Author (Local)

K.M. Rice


RUNNERS-UP Jonathan Franzen, Duncan McCollum

Dance Lessons (Studio) 

Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center

1060 River St., Suite #110, Santa Cruz, 332-1398, tanneryworlddance.com

RUNNERS-UP Motion Pacific, Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre

Festival (Art/Film)

Santa Cruz Film Festival

RUNNERS-UP Capitola Art & Wine Festival, Banff Mountain Film Festival

Festival (Music)

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music 


RUNNERS-UP Capitola Twilight Concerts, Mountain Sol

Festival (Street)

Greek Festival 


RUNNERS-UP Capitola Art & Wine Festival, Capitola Twilight Concerts

Kids’ Art Program

Mon Ami Art Studios


RUNNERS-UP Studio Sprout, Watershed Arts/Linda Cover

Movie Theater


210 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz, 

359-4523, landmarktheatres.com/santa-cruz

RUNNERS-UP Del Mar Theatre, Rio Theatre

Mural/Public Art

Mission St. Ocean Mural

RUNNERS-UP Black Lives Matter, Shopper’s Corner


Museum of Art & History 

705 Front St., Santa Cruz,

429-1964, santacruzmah.org

RUNNERS-UP Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, Santa Cruz Surf Museum

Photographer (Local) 

Shmuel Thaler 


RUNNERS-UP Devi Pride, Jana Marcus

Poet (Local)

Ellen Bass 

RUNNERS-UP Rachelle Escamilla, Gary Young

Radio Personality (Local)

“Ralph Anybody” Jeff Juliano 

RUNNERS-UP “Sleepy” John Sandidge, Rosemary Chalmers

Radio Station




Theater Company

Jewel Theatre 


RUNNERS-UP  Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Actors Theater


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