New beginnings: Center for the Arts remodel has begun |

New beginnings: Center for the Arts remodel has begun

Submitted to The Union
The rennovation of the Center for the Arts began with the demolition work within the building on Sept. 10. All the seats have been taken out, the stage has been dismantled, and space has been cleared to start the other improvements.
Submitted photo to The Union

After decades of planning and two years of fundraising, the work to reimagine the fabulous Center for the Arts is underway.

Thanks to a construction loan from River Valley Bank, the funding to begin the project has been secured. However, the loan was contingent upon raising a considerable closing payment from community donors, and Amber Jo Manuel, executive director of Center for the Arts, was tasked with raising nearly a half million dollars in 30 days.

Miraculously, she was able to do so, and the project has begun.

“River Valley Bank has been great to work with,” Manuel said. “They want to be the community bank and they are off to a great start. They have been very supportive and have really made this project come through for us.”

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Phase one

The project has been a long time coming. The contractor and architect team were chosen in January, 2017, and they worked with Center staff for nearly 18 months to create a plan and budget for the project.

The first phase is doing all of the demolition work within the building, which began on Sept. 10. So far, the seats have been taken out, the stage dismantled and the space cleared to make way for the improvements.

Next, the top priority is to start with the roof. Part of the urgency of pushing the loan along was that the new roof needs to be installed before the rain starts. After that, a small addition next to what is currently the Prospector lounge will be built.

Manuel stressed that The Off Center stage will remain in place with no changes except for small updates to the lobby to improve fire access. However, The Off Center is not able to be used during construction because there will be no access to the space for the general public, but the 120 seat theater will remain a venue for smaller shows when the construction has been completed.

While the construction is taking place, our community can still enjoy world class performances through the Center OnTheGo series. These shows are done to ensure that the arts remain front and center in western Nevada County, but the Center makes very little profit from them. That is why memberships at all levels are absolutely critical.

“The way we can sustain ourselves is that people become and remain members through this construction period and beyond,” Manuel said. “Next month we will be inviting our members to participate in our growth by joining the Next Stage Crew.

“If members join at the Cast level ($250) and make a commitment pledge to sustain your membership for three years they will become members of the Next Stage Crew and will be invited to special events around the opening of the new Center, both public and private.”

Half-way there

The Center has raised over $2 million so far but the goal to complete the renovation is $4.3 million. Manuel and her staff are finding creative and exciting ways to make sure that the refurbished Center will be of, for, and by the community.

For instance, the Center is commissioning a muralist to create a mural on the back exterior wall, and you can have your name incorporated into the art piece for $500. They are also selling rows of their old seats for $1000 and plaques in the main lobby for $10,000.

“Beginning in two weeks we will be inviting the entire community to participate and show their support for the arts,” Manuel said.

Another way the community can support The Center is to attend the Hollywood Ball Inaugural Gala, taking place from 5:30-11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, at the Veterans Hall in Grass Valley. This black tie affair will be an elegant throwback to old Hollywood, with a gourmet meal by Antonio Ayestaran and music by Lolo Gervais.

There will also be a live auction, which will include some wonderfully unique items, such as the honor of yourself and five friends being the first to have dinner and spend the night (up to three rooms with two adults each) at the remodeled National Hotel. Folks can also bid on securing the newly renovated Center for the Arts for your own private event so you could show a movie to 50 close friends or have your own DJ party on the new dance floor.

Party time!

Following the live auction will be the greatest After Party from 9-11 p.m. and tickets can be purchased separately to attend. The Ultimate After Party at 9 p.m. featuring Pop Rocks is open to everyone.

Pop Rocks is the ultimate dance band with tons of current high energy hits, mixed with the classics from the ’80s, ’90s and today. Featuring a song list to keep you on the dance floor all night long — playing songs from Bruno Mars to Whitney Houston — they dig deep into classic dance songs and execute them with style and enthusiasm.

For more information about the Gala, the Ultimate After Party, or the many fabulous shows taking place during the Center OnTheGo series, visit, stop by the Center for the Arts temporary box office at 988 Plaza Drive in Grass Valley (next to Margaritas Restaurant), or call 530-274-8384.

Source: Center for the Arts.

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