On June 19, 2006, one hundred close friends of the Towbes family and the Lobero Theatre gathered at Birnam Wood Country Club to honor one of Santa Barbara’s most admired philanthropists, Michael Towbes. Esteemed choreographer Margaret Jenkins, Lobero Board Member David Anderson, and Michael’s new bride Anne paid tribute to this beloved member of the community, and guests enjoyed a dance program performed by Nancy Colahan and Christopher Pilafian, both of whom are on the faculty at UCSB.
Reflecting Michael’s particular love of the performing arts, the evening also celebrated the newly established Towbes Family Endowment for Dance, the first pillar of the Eobero Endowment for Excellence-a group of named endowments committed to presenting programs and artists in particular areas of the performing arts. The Lobero Theatre Foundation Board of Directors and staff are immensely grateful to Michael Towbes and the Towbes family for their gift and for their continued support of the theatre.
The evening was a fitting homage to a man with a life-long love of the arts. Michael has always enjoyed the diversity of the arts, from his high school passion for big-band jazz and the music of Benny Goodman, to his blossoming love of the theater while at Princeton. His appreciation of dance began when he was introduced to a woman named Gail-an accomplished dancer and actress in her own right—who was to become his wife for 42 years, and mother of his daughters, Lianne and Carrie. He loves to attend events at the Lobero Theatre, feeling “right there” with the artists in the intimacy of the Gail Towbes Auditorium, which was named for his late wife. The varied offerings at the theatre suit his many interests, including opera, chamber music, community dance performances, and jazz legends like Dave Brubeck.
Dance continues to play a role in Michael’s life today. Besides enjoying the variety of performances offered on Santa Barbara stages, he and his wife Anne love to cut a rug! Before their marriage in 2005, they took ballroom dance lessons together and are now the first to arrive and last to leave any dance floor.
Michael has long been a generous supporter of all forms of performing arts because he gains so much personal enjoyment from them. When asked about challenges in the coming years, he expressed his concern over the substantial reduction of government funding.
Realizing that in a small community like Santa Barbara, where every likely donor is solicited by any number of worthy causes, the Lobero Theatre Foundation is honored that Michael and his family have established the Towbes Family Endowment for Dance and share the theatre’s commitment to keeping its stage accessible to companies of every size and audiences of every variety. Together we look forward to ensuring a vibrant and lasting legacy of dance at the Lobero.