Many Ventura County residents seem have to been lulled into a sense of complacency when it comes to art, culture, even giving. With the announcement this week that Cabrillo Music Theatre of Thousand Oaks would be suspending production after its Little Mermaid show in July, the 50-year-old nonprofit relayed that the latest turn of events, or lack thereof, was due to mounting theater costs, decreasing ticket sales and a reduction in grant money. This seems to be a common occurrence around the county, where cultural and social issues-related nonprofits struggle to stay alive because of the apparent ideology of “Someone else will take care of it so I don’t have to.” While some may shrug and say that only some nonprofits struggle but the fact is, local nonprofits just aren’t feeling the generosity.
The 2015 State of the Region report by the Ventura County Community Foundation, a nonprofit that provides services and support to other local nonprofits, showed that Ventura County’s level of giving to its own nonprofits, compared to neighboring counties and even the rest of California, is substantially lower.
“Ventura County lags far behind our neighboring counties and the state of California as a whole in per capita nonprofit revenue. In 2014, the average for all nonprofits in the state was $5,366 per resident. Nonprofits in Los Angeles County received $5,356 per resident, and those in Santa Barbara County took in $6,074 per resident. In Ventura County, the per capita revenue was $2,153.”
The good news: We weren’t pinching pennies in 2014 as much as we had been just a few years prior.
“Though Ventura County’s nonprofit revenue is relatively low, it has been growing. The 2014 figure was 23.8 percent higher than the per capita total in 2010, and more than double the per capita amount in 2000.”
The question is, why? Why do we have such a problem giving back to our own local nonprofits? Perhaps shaming residents into giving is one tactic, as it’s rather embarrassing just how far below everyone else we are, compared to the rest of the state. But shaming isn’t the best route. Maybe residents just need to find their passion and commit to giving in some form — even attending more events and shows would be helpful. We need to embrace a culturally diverse community with social support systems in place, lest our own resources die off and we have to go elsewhere for such things.
Ventura County is stuck but it doesn’t have to be. It’s time to ignore our lethargic tendencies and go out and experience what there is to offer. And if you can’t get out, find a way to give back. Surely there is enough wealth in the county to catch us up with the rest of the state.
For more information on area nonprofits, go to Ventura County Community Foundation website at www.vccf.org, click on ways to give.