The Man Behind the Events

Matthew Swinnerton is a man of many hats. From creating the monthly Event Santa Cruz series highlighting all that Santa Cruz has to offer to taking on the annual NEXTies awards that celebrates our upcoming leaders, from developing the Crafted in Santa Cruz brand to joining the Santa Cruz Works team as Programs Director, Matthew really does it all. 

Four years ago Matthew started Event Santa Cruz. The first ever event was held at Nickelodeon Theater and featured Kendra Baker (The Glass Jar), Margaret Rosas (Looker) and Ryan Coonerty (Santa Cruz County Supervisor)  among others. Since then, there have been events around a number of themes: Non-Starving Artist, Photobomb, PopUp night, Hair Dressers on Fire, and Event Watsonville. For Mathew it is all about showcasing people in town that are doing cool things. 

"What I really try to focus on is people that are passionate about what they do, and passion translates to an exciting story. Those people that come up with an idea or a thought and are like, ‘okay I'm going to quit my job, and I'm putting all my eggs in this one basket.’ Those are the really great stories." — Matthew Swinnerton

Event Sc Pic1 Allison Garcia

Photo Credit: Allison Garcia

Back when Event Santa Cruz was just an idea; there were many who did not think it would work long term. People just thought Santa Cruz did not have enough interesting people to showcase, but Matthew believed in his idea and pushed forward with his first event held at the Nickelodeon Theater in September of 2014. 220 people showed up for that first event and the idea took off from there. And for those at that first event and at events since, Event Santa Cruz has always felt special. Getting to learn about the truly unique stories of people in your own community elicits a real sense of pride and amazement. And Matthew has proven what he knew to be true back at the beginning: that there is a plethora of interesting, passionate, and creative Santa Cruzans following their dreams and passions. 

"I don't think we're ever going to run out. I mean... businesses like Humble Sea or Cat And Cloud Coffee, they weren't around 2 years ago. So there's always new people and there's always new businesses. And I don't know if other towns have this much creativity, passion, and desire, but I imagine we have a little bit more than most places. And Santa Cruz isn’t the cheapest place to live, so you have to be creative” - Matthew

Event Sc Pic2 Micheal Baba

Photo Credit: Michael Baba

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Photo Credit: Allison Garcia

Matthew has always had a passion for putting on events. From a young age he loved to put on plays and even volunteered to host his 6th grade graduation. Since then, Matthew has perfected the ability to pull off truly amazing events and is definitely the guy you want on your event planning team. What makes Matthew so good at putting events together is his focus on people and community. Matthew says his challenge and focus is "always to make it fresh and new and interesting.” He is constantly trying to find new and innovative ways to draw people in and showcase the amazing people here in Santa Cruz, and Event Santa Cruz has really become a building block of community. Matthew has created a space, through Event Santa Cruz, where you can run into and meet a ton of people, you can learn about and sample product from participating vendors, and you can get to know a little better the leaders and innovators that call Santa Cruz home. Event Santa Cruz showcases everything that our community has to offer, and we the community are grateful. 

To learn more about Event Santa Cruz or to register for the next event, visit

*Thank you to Allison Garcia Photography for many of the photos used in this article*

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