Christopher Rosacker
crosacker@theunion.com

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May 17, 2013
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'Spring Fling' hoped to bring much-needed funds to nonprofit


Flowers are in bloom and Neighborhood Center of the Arts is having its annual Home and Garden Show and “Spring Fling” today.

The event promises to be a day packed full of activities, including a talent show, games, an art and plant sale and a barbecue.

All of the proceeds from the sale of works by the center’s artists and garden plants will go to the nearly 30-year-old nonprofit to support its programs — something it is in dire need of.

“That money we raise goes right into our art supply fund,” said Amee Medeiros, the executive director.

Neighborhood Center of the Arts provides opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities to grow to the best of their ability through the arts and community integration. Each day, as many as 50 artists, ranging in age from 21 to 75, work in the Center’s studio to create weavings, ceramics, paintings, drawings, woodworking and computer arts.

“We’re the best-kept secret in town that shouldn’t be a secret,” Medeiros said.

Many of the nonprofit’s artists have had their works in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including European galleries.

“This is my pride and joy,” said Steve Myers, 59, pointing to a display of paint on wood, a piece he called “George and Henry and the Old Time Village” that took him two months to finish.

After years operating as a county workshop, Neighborhood Center of the Arts officially formed in 1984. After shuffling from various locations around town, it arrived in the mid-1990s at its current home — a renovated wing of the Litton Building, located at 200 Litton Drive, up past BriarPatch and AJA Video.

Some artists spend all day there, some only come a couple times a week.

“It gives me something to do rather than be home and bored,” said Cindy Benson, a 60-year-old with special needs who runs the Neighborhood Center’s snack shack, and who creates art on its computers and with clay, as well as weaving and crafting jewelry.

As its artists have special needs, the nonprofit has no shortage of costs to work with them, including insurance, liability, materials and health care. Rent alone reaches $9,000 a month and the organization’s elevator — which is vital for the mobility of some of its artists — may require a $50,000 repair/replacement, the director said.

“The last time we ordered paper, it was $2,500,” Medeiros said.

In all, Medeiros said the nonprofit has about $42,000 in monthly costs, but it is only bringing in about $41,000 a month. According to its 2010 tax records, the Neighborhood Center had a total revenue of nearly $143,000, which was about $2,000 short of its costs that year.

In addition to a core of donors, the nonprofit has gotten funding from a litany of organizations, including Alta California Regional Center, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the state and county arts councils, as well as other state agencies, the United Way, the county Association of the Disabled and other organizations benefitting those with special needs. It also gets funding from the sale of its artists’ work.

“We have the same group of supporters and they can only buy so much art,” Medeiros said.

Another problem is that Neighborhood Center OF the Arts is often confused with Northern California Center for the Arts, better known simply as The Center for the Arts.

While the latter is also a Grass Valley nonprofit, it brings a diverse array of programming to western Nevada County, including music, dance, theater, film, visual art, comedy, youth arts education and literature.

Attracting big-name acts that include Chick Corea, Dana Carvey and Willie Nelson, the Center for the Arts has an annual revenue of more than a million dollars.

Over the next year, Medeiros said her goal is to make the Neighborhood Center’s artists better known in Nevada County.

“Sometimes, when the general public wants to interact with people with disabilities, they forget how similar we all are,” she said. “They might look different or behave different, but don’t we all?”

Medeiros is looking to other organizations to help. She hopes to get some of the artists on the air of a local radio station at least once a month and Nevada County Digital Media Center has showcased some of the center’s art.

It was at NCTV that Music in the Mountains’ Executive Director Cristine Kelly ran into Medeiros and asked to have her artists’ work displayed at Summerfest, Music in the Mountains’ annual series of performances.

“I love so much of Neighbor’s art, it really resonates with me,” Kelly said. “It deals with a population that people sometime don’t want to highlight. It’s such a great program. It doesn’t get enough recognition.”

The Neighborhood Center’s art will be displayed at the Nevada County Fairgrounds’ Amaral Center June 22-30, as part of Summerfest.

Art will also be available today at Spring Fling, which is more than an art and plant sale, it is also an opportunity to meet staff and artists and see their talents.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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The Union Updated May 30, 2013 01:07PM Published May 20, 2013 08:25AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.