VADA at Santa Barbara High School Receives Approval to Move Ahead with New Building

With a contractor selected, construction will begin in December

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ed Zuchelli -

Santa Barbara, CA (November 16, 2022) – Construction of a new state-of-the-art building for Santa Barbara High School’s Visual Arts & Design Academy (VADA) was approved by the Santa Barbara Unified School Board Tuesday night. 

The new building’s aim is to help students prepare more fully for their future through a modern, flexible approach to classroom organization and support an improved curriculum for visual arts, design, and creative studies. The new building encompasses 3,350 square feet and includes a digital design lab, indoor/outdoor studio workspace, shop areas for new technology, photography, and integrated exhibition space.

“It’s been years of dreaming and working on a new space designed especially to cultivate our student’s creativity and prepare them for their future,” said Daniel Barrett, VADA program director. “The dream is now a reality and it is exhilarating to see it coming together. We are so grateful for the support we’ve received thus far from our donors.”

Through a partnership with the Santa Barbara Unified School District, a matching grant from the California Department of Education was acquired to augment Measure I 2016 bond funds allocated to the project.  With initial private donations, the Friends of VADA (FOV), the nonprofit group behind the fundraising effort, secured the additional funds necessary for the new state-of-the-art space. FOV will continue to fundraise and further support the vision of VADA’s student program, including significant campus developments and renovations of existing facilities.

“Congratulations to the Friends of VADA team and faculty for achieving this milestone for a new state-of-the-art VADA building that students and faculty will use for generations to come,” commented Dr. Hilda Maldonado, SBHS Superintendent. “We look forward to continuing the fundraising program and welcome more community partnerships to support future facility enhancements and modernization.” 

“I want to thank everyone involved with this fundraising effort for successfully achieving approval to build the new VADA facility,” stated SBHS principal Dr. Elise Simmons. “This new building is a great example of how state, school district, and private funding can come together to achieve a successful outcome for our students, faculty, and the larger community.”

The contract for the construction of the new building was awarded to McGillivray Construction. McGillivary will begin construction on the new facility on December 1, 2022, and is expected to complete the project in January of 2024. 

Fundraising continues to further support VADA’s future. Individuals or groups wishing to contribute to the VADA Capital Campaign can visit