The Center for the Arts hosts a series of holiday shows, with re-opening planned for the new year |

The Center for the Arts hosts a series of holiday shows, with re-opening planned for the new year

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector

As with many construction projects, unexpected delays have (again) pushed the “We’re Open” date out for the Center for the Arts. But unlike other venues involved in an extensive remodel, the delays have resulted in unexpected but cherished community partnerships as the Center for the Arts worked to find alternate venues for the many performers who came to the area throughout the entire process. That now includes the many holiday and year-end performances they had hoped to hold in the new ultramodern facility.

Now expected to open in early 2020, the Center for the Arts continues to bring world-class entertainment to the community as it has throughout the renovation process. The “Center of the Go” series comes with its own set of challenges said Marketing Director Melissa Clark.

“We literally go and set up shop for one day. We are renting equipment we would normally have on hand. We are hauling that equipment from one place to another. We are storing equipment in other places. We are using rental trucks. So, there are just many, many pieces of logistics we would not normally deal with and that don’t usually cost us anything.” Clark said once the Center opens, it will be better all around. “Once we are in the new Center, we roll the chairs out from under the stage, we put the tables back from the side. It will all just be easier. But continuing to bring entertainment to the county throughout the remodel has been vital.”

Executive Director Amber Jo Manuel agreed. “We could have closed the doors but instead we kept the arts alive and kept programming in the community, in part to keep the community close to us and to the project. We want the building to feel like it is theirs and if we were absent from their minds for a year and a half, they wouldn’t feel like this is a project that they own. We want it to be that everybody owns the Center. It is a community hub.”

New year, new center

The renovated 21,000 square foot facility will have a 490-seat main theater, a visual art gallery, classroom space, and a 90-seat black box theater. An art deco theme will carry throughout the building. While it has not been easy, there have been some unanticipated rewards for the various venues they used.

“Getting to know our partners better and bringing other folk to those venues who might not have been there before and building those relationships has been great,” Clark said. “It takes a village and we have an amazing creative village here in Nevada County. We are really thankful for all our partners including the Foothills Event Center and Music in The Mountains. It has been important to keep ourselves as a location on the map for these artists who are coming through town and also to provide arts and culture for our community.”

Holiday shows

Continuing the “Center on The Go” Series will be An Appalachian Christmas with Grammy award-winning artist Mark O’Connor on Dec. 14 at the Foothills Event Center at 8 p.m.

On Dec. 19, Windham Hill celebrates their Winter Solstice acoustic album series with founder and Grammy-winning guitarist Will Ackerman along with Barbara Higbie, performing a festive and joyous holiday concert. It is with thanks to Music in the Mountains that the performance will take place at the Amaral Center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Also at the Amaral Center on Friday, Dec. 20, Irish Christmas in America will perform Irish music, song and dance. The show starts at 1 p.m., and a promised visit from Santa is included.

“The Irish Christmas in America show is a matinee — and Music in the Mountains have a show that night. So, sometimes it means a pretty quick turnaround,” said Clark. The organizations are working together to bring the best of both worlds to Nevada County and Music in the Mountains will be the first artists in residence at the new Center.

Manuel said she also learned a lot during the remodel. “We are resilient. We have had a long renovation process and discovered lots of things in this old 1957 Chevy building that were unfortunate, but everyone stepped up with a really positive attitude. The staff here is incredible and they will be cutting the ribbon.”

Unexpected findings during the demolition and reconstruction process equates to more costs added to the bottom line of an already expensive renovation. Manuel said they still have chairs and space on their donor wall for individuals and businesses to be recognized into perpetuity, while helping the Center finance the remodel.

There will be several events leading to the first concert in the venue, including a special evening for those who bought one of the seats. The $350,000 worth of chairs are expected to be installed in mid-December. For a complete schedule of upcoming events and to donate to the Center for the Arts go to

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User