Who We Are
NAMBA Performing Arts Space is a dynamic community arts organization founded by Ben Namba & Julia Campbell Namba, dedicated to fostering Dance, Music, Theater, Film, Performance, Educational & Community collaborations.
Executive Director Lorenzo DeStefano, along with NAMBA’s Board, Volunteers and loyal Clients & Supporters, are committed to enriching the cultural landscape here in Ventura.
Our focus is to reach out and engage in positive community efforts, through the Arts, that will deepen and enrich NAMBA’s profile as a key cultural resource on the Central Coast.
We are often asked, “what does NAMBA stand for?” and most people assume it’s an acronym. In fact, Namba is the last name of our beloved donors, Ben and Julia Campbell Namba. The Namba family have generously provided financial support to the nonprofit since it’s inception. Their motivation was to fill a void in our community for dedicated performing arts space as a place to nurture local talent and provide a safe environment for our youth to hone their artistic skills.
Namba’s Origins date back to November 2013 when, under the direction of Pamela Pilkenton, ALOFT dancers performed “Clara Cries Nuts” in an art studio loft. Though the production was largely a success, at least one audience member, Julia Campbell-Namba, was underwhelmed by the venue and believed that these dancers could have a great influence on the community in a more accessible, professional theatre.
Julia and Pam began talks which led to the creation of Aloft Dancetheatre, Inc. a 501(c)3 corporation. Next they needed a venue. They spent the better part of a year searching for an appropriate space. Finally, and with generous funding provided by Julia and Ben Namba, a transformative renovation, from retail storefront to performing arts space, began at 47 South Oak Street in Ventura’s downtown historic cultural arts district.
Over the years, Namba has presented hundreds of events. This creative space has presented a diverse array of Music, Dance, Theater, Comedy, Civic and Community happenings.
Thousands of students and arts enthusiasts alike have passed through the doors to enjoy and participate in performances, classes or workshops. The history of NAMBA is filled not just with the hearts of performers, participants, staff and audience, but also with the generosity of NAMBA Patrons, Ben and Julia Campbell Namba.
Julia, significant supporter of Ventura’s Arts Scene and deeply committed to preserving Performing Arts in the community, remains a constant force of creative ingenuity within the NAMBA mission. The “Namba” name emblazoned on the studio space is one way Julia honors her husband, Ben, who now lives with Alzheimer Disease but has always shared her great appreciation for the arts.
Namba’s legacy is ~ and always will be ~ Ben’s legacy too.
On March 20, 2019, the NAMBA Board voted to have the 501c3 nonprofit corporation filed with California’s Secretary of State legal name change from ALOFT Dance to the “Namba Performing Arts Space.”
And so the History of NAMBA continues to shine with the sparkle of a dream that is to create a performing arts space filled with theater, music, dance, a thriving art community and education!