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Creativity Capital - Arts and Culture in Santa Cruz

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With one of the highest concentrations of resident artists in the country, Santa Cruz teems with creative culture. From theatrical productions to artisan showcases to original artwork mounted on the traffic signal cabinets, you'll discover the city's creative spirit across town year-round. Come see a beloved musical, watch an artist at work, and snap a selfie next to a public art installation.

Performing arts


Drawing actors and other stage artists from the Bay Area arts scene, Santa Cruz regularly hosts high-caliber theater in its small, intimate venues. Crocker Theater, on the campus of Cabrillo College in Soquel, seats 570, and Jewel Theatre Company stages shows on both its original 89-seat Center Stage and the newly completed Colligan Theater at the Tannery Arts Center.


Cabrillo College Visual, Applied, and Performing Arts (VAPA) Complex


VAPA comprises 3 venues: Crocker Theater, Sampler Recital Hall, and a black-box theater - an unadorned space for experimental shows. Events range from a cappella performances by the renowned Cantiamo! choral group to professional Broadway shows produced by Cabrillo Stage.


6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos 95003Tel: +1 831 479 6154


Cabrillo College Visual, Applied, and Performing Arts (VAPA) Complex website


Jewel Theatre Company


This professional theater company presents musicals, comedies, and dramas year-round. Provocative shows include The Price by Arthur Miller and Talley's Folly by Lanford Wilson. For pure lighthearted fun, there are longtime favorites like Guys and Dolls.


1001 Center Street, Santa Cruz 95060. Tel: +1 831 425 7506


Jewel Theatre Company website

Art galleries and studio tours


With its beautiful vistas of sea and mountains, Santa Cruz has inspired generations of artists to live and work here - and to display their finished products in dozens of galleries and exhibits across town. Visit Artisans Gallery downtown or watch an artist-in-residence work at the multidisciplinary Tannery Arts Center.


Artisans Gallery


A Santa Cruz fixture since 1976, Artisans Gallery sells American-made artworks, jewelry, glass, ceramics, cards, candles, and bath products. You'll also find children's toys and games, as well as rotating art installations. Many of the items are locally made.


1368 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz 95060. Tel: +1 831 423 8183


Artisans Gallery website


Tannery Arts Center


A tannery dating back to the mid-1800s has been converted into the Tannery Arts Center, scenically situated on the San Lorenzo River. The center includes galleries, studio space for working artists, performance venues, and a café.


1050 River Street, Santa Cruz 95060. Tel: +1 831 621 6226


Tannery Arts Center website


Outdoor art installations


With a climate ideal for outdoor explorations, Santa Cruz is a natural host to public art installations. Visit the Santa Cruz City Arts website for descriptions of installed works and interviews with the artists. For a uniquely Californian marriage of form and function, check out the tiles and murals installed at Ken Wormhoudt Skate Park and watch the skateboarders display their own kind of artistry.


Public art walking tour


The Santa Cruz City Arts website provides a map for a self-guided walking tour of downtown that highlights murals, permanent sculptures, and architecture. The map also includes rotating outdoor exhibits, such as SculpTOUR and Graphic Traffic.


Tel: +1 831 420 5157


Public art walking tour website


Art museums and natural history


Santa Cruz is proud of its history and the people who have rebuilt the community as time, earthquakes, and economic drivers have passed. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History is a coalition of arts organizations that maintains more than 300 contemporary pieces by local artists, as well as 7,000 historical artifacts. To explore the area's past before modern development, visit the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.


Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH)


This downtown museum hosts temporary and permanent exhibitions, including interactive experiences. MAH is also a cornerstone of the community festivals held the first and third Friday evenings of each month. Museum admission is free for children under 12.


705 Front Street, Santa Cruz 95060. Tel: +1 831 429 1964


Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) website


Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History


This quaint museum overlooking Seabright State Beach features exhibits on native peoples, plants, wildlife, and geology, in addition to rotating installations. Kids love the grey whale statue and the touch pool containing live marine animals.


1305 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz 95062. Tel: +1 831 420 6115


Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History website