Caring for the arts: Nevada County Arts Council offers CARES relief grants, partners with California Arts Council to serve communities of color locally |

Caring for the arts: Nevada County Arts Council offers CARES relief grants, partners with California Arts Council to serve communities of color locally

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector
Ana Mendez, Tracy Pepper and Daniela Fernández of Color Me Human
Photo courtesy of Tracy Pepper
Artist Spencer McClay at Neighborhood Center of the Arts.
Photo courtesy Amee Madeiros


The photo on the cover of this edition of Prospector features Olivia Pritchett (left) and Michele Fitzhugh Nesbit in “The Joy Luck Club” produced by CATS.

Photo by David Wong.

In a time when live events are being canceled or moved online, it is important to note that the economy of the art sector has been disproportionately affected. Still, art, in its many forms, is available to each of us.

In its simplest form, one can take in art simply by stepping outside. In a more structured modality, art can be enjoyed in this community in window fronts and on the side of buildings. Even in a pandemic, art in its many forms is still readily available for the general public to enjoy by simply taking a walk around downtown Grass Valley to enjoy the variety of murals that have been painstakingly painted around the city or stroll down the streets and enjoy the temporary window displays beautifying otherwise abandoned store fronts. Nevada City has procured themed window displays enhancing cultural events and reading programs. There are also art co-ops and galleries that adhere to restrictions while offering the opportunity for the public to enjoy the work of local artists in a variety of mediums. Performance artists are learning to stream live concerts from the stage to the comfort of your home.

Art is all around us and artists continue to need the support of the community to sustain them through these unprecedented times. Some ten months following the first county shutdown, which forced a multitude of businesses to close their doors, one of the hardest hits and long reaching industries affected is those of live performers, their support industries, and other art agencies. Many organizations are struggling under the burden of an unknown future and with limited options to raise much needed funds.



The impact of art and the importance of art was recently confirmed by a distribution of funds from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Acknowledging the creative arts sector as an essential part of the nation’s economy and putting up funding to support many of the organizations is a critical component to ensure the future success of such organizations. The Nevada County Arts Council opted in as a State Local-Partner (SLP) of the California Arts Council to be involved in the distribution of its share of that funding.

In a release, Nevada County Arts Council Executive Director Eliza Tudor said, “Naturally, we opted in, calling this opportunity Nevada County CARES for the Arts. Our initiative aligned with both the California Arts Council’s public mission and commitment to racial equity, and Nevada County Arts Council’s own equity principles, which respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages, and ensure that all voices are valued and heard.”

Application submissions closed in early December. A team was assembled to review each applicant and the agency distributed $12,600 to six qualifying organizations that “showed integrity in serving different communities of color through creativity and the arts.”

Those organizations include some long established, such as the Community Asian Theater of the Sierras (CATS) which was seeking assistance related to the postponement of their annual stage presentation; the California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project (CHIRP) to support general operations as the group is making strides in re-claiming its federal recognition; and The Neighborhood Center of the Arts which will use funds to purchase art supplies and pay art teachers to support three developmentally disabled or challenged adults, who also face other difficulties receiving services related to COVID restrictions.


For more information including how to get involved go to

Several lesser-known groups also received awards including Color Me Human. Formed last February, the 501c3 mission in part is to dismantle systems of oppression through education. Funds awarded will go toward the production of a series that plans to share stories from three black women.

Trails & Vistas, an organization dedicated to facilitating art events in nature for all ages will use the award to fund expenses related to their film, “The Dreaming Tree.” In the same press release, Jean Varda, board president, and Nancy Lopez, Executive Director issued a joint statement: “We are grateful to Nevada County Arts Council for its decision to invest in Trails & Vistas’ extra curricula virtual field trip film, The Dreaming Tree, through our support of Latin students in the Truckee Community. An inclusive and diverse group of artists and speakers in the film, including a member of the Native American Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada, as well as other cultural guides, will be featured.”

Grass Valley Taiko also received an award to cover basic monthly expenses.

As well as its first priority of supporting Nevada County’s creative sector, Nevada County Arts Council has also been providing peer support and mentoring for Sierra County Art Council in the administering of its own grantmaking process.

Says Tudor, “The State-Local Partner network extends the length and breadth of California. This provides leadership in the arts in every corner of the state, and while not all agencies had the capacity to opt-in to California Arts Council’s re-granting initiative, it felt important to support our neighbors. We were thrilled, at the end of the day, that cultural organizations and less formal groups offering support to communities of color were able to benefit from monies from the state both within and beyond county lines. This support has never been felt more deeply – and particularly in our rural underserved communities.”


Artist Relief Fund

Shortly after announcing these awards, the Nevada County Arts Council got back to work assessing another set of applicants, this time to disburse the Artist Relief Fund. Tudor said they have received more applicants than they can fully fund but are excited as the group expects to be able to help about half. Thirty applicants will receive $500 each after a panel review. The deadline for submission was Jan. 15.

The self-proclaim “hub” for information about the arts in Nevada County, the work of the Nevada County Arts Council is unceasing. Art is universal and vital to the health of the community. For more information including how to get involved go to

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at She can be reached at holliesallwrite@


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