Santa Maria Arts Council

The Santa Maria Arts Council since 1965

2012 Honoree, Nancy K. Johnson

Stacks Image 9


Nancy K. Johnson was introduced to theatre and opera by her parents at a young age, and through the years that love of the arts grew with her. As a first grade teacher she incorporated writing, history, spelling, and the arts as a cohesive, all inclusive curriculum. She taught the whole child.

She moved to Santa Maria in 1964, the same year PCPA was founded and immediately became a subscriber. It was also the time she and her husband Ned, had the means to give their time and lend financial support to the arts. PCPA is not the only non-profit close to her heart. She is a regular donor to, the Santa Maria Civic Theatre, The Santa Maria Symphony, and The Santa Maria Arts Council. And as with most philanthropists, Nancy doesn’t just give to a single cause. Nancy also lends her support to Planned Parenthood, Transition Mental Health Association, the Food Bank, and others. This past fiscal summer marked the conclusion of Nancy’s two-year presidency on the PCPA Foundation board.

“I can remember one time I thought, I really can’t afford to give this much to PCPA, I ought to be giving it to others, including the Food Bank [which she does].” Then Jack Shouse shared an article with her on why we should give to the arts. “And it was this idea that the arts are the basis of a healthy society. And I thought that’s right, what good is physical health if there’s nothing to enjoy? That made me even more convinced that this was all important.”

Nancy’s demonstration of supporting the arts in our community is part of the fabric that builds on our quality of life. Theatre, dance, museums, and orchestras are amenities that draw people of affluence to a community, who in return can reach other segments, such as the poor and disadvantaged. Without arts and culture in the community how many enterprises would choose to make the Central Coast, or Santa Maria, their home?

Particularly now, with charitable giving in decline, Nancy is the right sort of beacon that champions the Arts Council’s mission - which is to encourage and expand the arts in our community. She doesn’t just give of herself, but encourages others to do the same. With a laugh she said, “You don’t know how many people I scold when I find out they’re not buying season tickets.”

When asked, why give to the arts? She responded, “I give to the arts because I think they are so important to a healthy society. They’re full of, pure fun at times, deep pathos other times, they really make you think; and sometimes forces us to think about things we’d rather not think about. It’s the gamut of all human experiences and it helps us let out our emotions. We need it for our well being.”