Grass Valley’s The Center for the Arts unveils plans to reopen in November |

Grass Valley’s The Center for the Arts unveils plans to reopen in November

The walls go up for the proscenium arch at The Center for the Arts in early April.
Submitted photo courtesy John Taber

Know & Go

What: The Center for The Arts

Where: During renovation, box office is at The Plaza, 998 Plaza Drive, Grass Valley

For info: Go to or call 530-274-8384

Amber Jo Manuel has perfected the art of turning lemons into lemonade.

The executive director of The Center for the Arts spun the winter’s bad weather, which drastically impacted the multi-million-dollar renovation of the historic building, into a positive during the nonprofit’s annual “State of the Center” meeting Tuesday night.

After all, Manuel told the audience, if it hadn’t been one of the wettest Februaries on record, the construction crews would not have discovered a major structural issue.

“If we had done the work in the summer, we would never had known that water pours through the west wall,” she said.

Fixing the water intrusion issue with a French drain along the entire wall will “mean everything to the future of the building,” Manuel added.

Manuel called the ongoing discovery of issues with the aging structure somewhat of a “comedy of errors,” including a clogged drain causing rotting that in turn has caused the foundation of the east side of the building to wash away. She said a contingency budget of what was considered a safe 5% of the total budget — $136,000 — has been exceeded already; the French drain for the west wall alone will cost an estimated $140,000. Manuel currently is working to raise an additional $540,000 for the contingency fund.

“We have the utmost confidence in the community,” she said. “We are going to accomplish this task.”

It wasn’t all bad news. Manuel highlighted just how exciting it was to finally break ground in mid-September on a project that had been a dream for nearly 20 years. She also detailed the progress made so far and unveiled both a projected reopening date and some of the acts slated for the revamped center.

Demolition on The Center for the Arts began Sept. 11, Manuel said. Contractors discovered a sinkhole in November, and then another one appeared in late January — Manuel noted that one turned out to be a “privy,” not a mine shaft. Footings were poured on April 1 and the pre-cast walls for the new back section of the center were installed April 9.

“That was one of the funnest moments ever,” Manuel said, telling the audience how she loaded up her kids and her dog and drove out to the center at 7 p.m., sitting on the street with the neighbors to watch the last panel being fitted into place.

The estimated reopening for The Center for the Arts is late November, Manuel said, adding that no firm date has been set pending the installation of the new roof.

“We have booked shows for November and December,” she said. “We will do a season announce in September — an entire season of music, theater and dance.”

On Tuesday, Manuel offered a sneak peek of some of those shows: Rodney Crowell, Storm Large, Mark O’Connor’s Appalachian Christmas, Paula Poundstone, Terry Riley and Kronos Quartet, Joan Osborne, Riders in the Sky and the Windham Hill Winter Solstice show.

Contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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