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October 14, 2013
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Know Your Nonprofit: The Center for the Arts

What is your mission statement?

The Center for the Arts is a cultural and educational organization that promotes and presents literary, visual and performing arts for the enrichment of our community.

What is your yearly budget, and how many paid employees do you have?

Our annual budget is $1.6 million. The staff includes four full-time employees and 10 part-time employees. We have more than 700 trained volunteers and 12 volunteer board members.

What is your nonprofit’s history?

In the late 1990s, a group of artists and community members came together to create a broad vision of a community arts organization in an abandoned Chevrolet dealership on Main Street in Grass Valley. Performances were held in a small room off Main Street until it became apparent the community could sustain a larger performance space. The first milestone was presenting Roger Hodgson, formerly of the group Supertramp and a Nevada County resident, as the first web live broadcast. Local realtor and arts supporter Jon Blinder purchased the building in 2001. The center became a 501(c) (3) public benefit corporation, and in 2002 various renovations were completed, including the addition of the Off Center Stage and a dance studio. In 2003, Jon Blinder donated the building to the Center, and the focus was then on the façade of the building and transforming the outside appearance.

In the past 10 years, The Center for the Arts has become a leading Northern California arts organization committed to providing a diverse array of programming that includes music, dance, theater, film, visual art, comedy, youth arts education and literature to western Nevada County. We manage and maintain a multiuse 21,000-square-foot facility in downtown Grass Valley, which includes a 300-seat main theater, two visual art galleries, classroom space and a 90-seat black box theater. We provide marketing and production services to support local artists and arts organizations and collaborate with area nonprofits to provide event services and fundraising support.

Who is your primary audience?

The center is the only cultural organization in Nevada County that offers a variety of events to such a large demographic. With more than 150 performances a year, we serve over 50,000 each year, with audiences of all ages. We attract patrons from Nevada County, as well as more than 30 percent of our audiences from Placer County, Sacramento, Tahoe, Reno and the Bay Area. In addition to improving the region’s quality of life through a rich arts scene, the center’s visibility in outlying counties makes it a viable economic engine for the county. The center is committed to building Nevada County as a destination for the arts.

List the biggest achievements in your nonprofit’s history

1. 2011: The center created an off-site program to include the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium and the Nevada County Fairgrounds, allowing us to bring more diverse headlining entertainment to the community and increase participation of visitors from outside the county.

2. 2011 – present: We established our commitment to nonprofit collaboration with the introduction of an annual nonprofit partnership program voted on by the community; the production of the Bear Yuba Land Trust annual concert (Aaron Neville, 2011; Willie Nelson, 2012; and Dr. John, 2013); and artistic collaborations with Music in the Mountains, InConcert Sierra, Sierra Stages and others. The center raised more than $100,000 in three years for other area nonprofits and arts organizations.

3. 2008 – present: Youth and Education Programs. We provide venue and underwriting support for our area’s longest running children’s theater company, the Performing Arts Guild (PAG); produce eight weeks of summer camps with scholarships for underserved youth; and present touring programs for youth. In 2012, the center received a prestigious grant award from the James Irvine Foundation to produce a free Music Mentor program — the successful Community Jam serves ages 19-90+ years.

List the biggest challenges you face

Creating awareness in the community that despite income from ticket sales, the center’s earned revenue only covers 60 percent of its costs. We require financial contributions to continue to offer a wide variety of programming, free and paid, for the whole community. Like any nonprofit organization, we need financial leadership from donors, businesses and foundations to create a cushion that allows us to take risks, operate and maintain a heavily used facility. We are currently developing long-range giving programs that include planned giving and endowments to ensure the sustainability of the center for decades to come.

What is your No. 1 short-term goal for the next year?

To make permanent improvements to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. We will be launching the fundraising program OPERATION: Name a Seat, which will retrofit the bleachers with stadium seating with cushions. For a donation of $100, we will install a plaque with the name of a U.S. veteran or someone currently serving in the armed forces.

In order to maintain our current growth and realize our visions for the future, we continually need to upgrade our highly used 21,000-square-foot facility. We recently implemented Phase 1 of a Master Plan to improve the center’s venue, including ADA improvements, increased accessibility and safety for our patrons, a new box office and new offices to allow efficiency for a growing staff. By the end of 2013, we plan to complete our facility’s Master Plan, based on the needs of the community and our artistic partners, in order to launch a capital campaign for the building’s renovation. In addition, we are updating our strategic plan.

What is your No. 1 long-term goal for the next three years?

To be a leadership organization providing excellence and value in all areas of arts programming, as well as the highest quality customer service in order to meet the needs of our whole community, from youth to seniors, and to build community and collaboration through the arts.

What are your major fundraisers and dates?

Spring Membership Drive – May 2013

Dancing With Our Stars – Aug. 23, 2013

Rock ‘n’ Bowl – Oct. 26, 2013

Fall Membership Drive – October 2013

What is the best way a person interested in your organization could help?

Join Up! Become a member (levels begin at $50 for one year), become a volunteer, make a tax deductible donation, become a center sponsor, advertise in our event programs or include us in your estate planning.

Contact information:

314 West Main St.

Grass Valley, CA 95945

P: 530-274-8384

F: 530-272-7084

Box Office: 530-274-8384 ext. 14

Hours: Noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thecenterforthearts

Twitter: www.twitter.com/thecenterforthearts

Web Page: www.thecenterforthearts.org

The Center for the Arts is a member of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, which provides the weekly Know Your Nonprofit feature. You can learn more about The Center for Nonprofit Leadership online at www.CNLSierra.org. The Center is on Facebookwww.facebook.com/NevadaCountyNonProfitLeadership and Twitter @NevCoNonprofits.


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The Union Updated Oct 14, 2013 06:46AM Published Oct 15, 2013 06:22PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.