Keeping the arts alive: The Center for the Arts launches End of Year Membership Drive to fortify arts, community programming |

Keeping the arts alive: The Center for the Arts launches End of Year Membership Drive to fortify arts, community programming

By Hollie Grimaldi Flores

COVID-19 related restrictions have wreaked havoc on fundraising efforts for nonprofit organizations throughout the region, but arguably, none have been affected more dramatically than the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. Coming straight off a 6.1-million-dollar, two-year remodeling project plagued with delays and cost over runs, the Center for the Arts had some ambitious plans to introduce supporters to the newly renovated venue, and its incomparable sound system. Unfortunately, after hosting a single performance, state regulations forced the Center of the Arts to once again close their doors to the public.

Over the past nine months, the Center has worked to ride out the limitations imposed for public safety and operated within the guidelines, to stream live music events, offer art education classes for area youth, and display original works by local artists.

Now, the organization is asking for help from the community to be able to continue to pay their bills and staff. Executive Director Amber Jo Manuel said it has definitely been a challenging year.

“We didn’t have a membership drive all year because we just didn’t know it was going to go on so long,” said Manuel. We usually offer tickets to shows and things like that, but we didn’t know what was going to happen, so we postponed our spring and fall drives and decided to combine it with an end of year appeal.”

Manuel confessed the organization has been asking for support a lot with the construction project but knows how important it is to be able to offer art to the area. “I really do believe the arts are going to be our recovery. It’s important that we are still here and that we can ride this wave, so we are asking the community to be members.”

The Center has developed several online benefits and rewards for those who become members or renew their memberships. Manuel said one of the biggest advantages of being a member is the opportunity to enjoy free broadcasts of live shows. “We are starting a new series called ‘In Conversation With.’ The subjects include lifestyle, art, food, and nature.” The seminar topics are wide reaching from virtual hiking to weed education.

Taking place on Zoom, the weekly conversations will be free to members while available for a fee to nonmembers. Other incentives include weekly drawings for the rest of the month, a silent auction, and bonus gifts based on varying membership levels.

“We are trying to provide a number of opportunities online and hope these opportunities will drive membership,” Manuel said.

Becoming a member of the Center for the Arts means you are securing the future of the Center and helping them to continue to provide opportunities for local artists to perform and for visual artists to display their work in the gallery. Manuel said they need people to become members so they can stay open, “We don’t know when we can have shows again in 2021. The best we can do is to stay open, keep supporting local artists by providing them with a stage and a great sound system and a beautiful art gallery and providing the public with a place to come and see that. People are tuning in to see the live performances to fill the gap.”

Manuel said they are also honing their broadcast skills so they can continue to broadcast any artist even after the restrictions are lifted for those who may still be uncomfortable being in a large group setting. Keeping staff is vital to keeping the organization moving forward.

With a major bank loan outstanding, Manual is especially grateful to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors who awarded a large grant to help cover expenses and keep the Center’s doors open.

Manual said, “We need people to become members. We are trying to create opportunities. We had no income for two years and we were able to build a theater without laying off one person. Somehow, we are going to do it. The results of this membership drive really will help us to plan for the future and to know how far we can go down the path.” She added she is hoping for live shows in the summer but there is still too much unknown.

The membership drive goes through Dec. 31. Donations can also be made to the emergency fund or building fund in any amount. In addition, a silent auction offering everything from Zoom meet and greet opportunities, to rum cake is being held online until Dec. 23. Go to to place your bid.

Manual concluded, “Support the arts. Support artists in our community. We want to provide opportunities for artists. I hope the community will step up and let us do it.”

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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