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3 county arts groups get education grants

Gillen Morrison (left) and Ted Barton perform in a September student matinee of Foothill Theatre Company's "The Two Gentlemen of Verona."
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Three Nevada County arts organizations have been awarded a total of $47,865 through the California Arts Council’s Exemplary Arts Education Program.

The grant program, in its second year, provides funding to support arts education for kindergarten through 12th grade.



The Nevada County Arts Council was awarded $20,000 this year, and the Foothill Theatre Company was awarded $12,215. For the first time, North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center will receive $15,650.




Each organization received the full amount requested. The monies are available for programming that runs through December.

“We’re not the wealthiest county so we’re all trying to get the biggest bang for our kids,” said Penelope Curtis, the Nevada County Arts Council executive director.

Last year, grants went to Nevada City School District projects, financing a new kiln room at Deer Creek School, a floating dance floor at Seven Hills Middle School and storage containers for art supplies at Nevada City Elementary.

The majority of this year’s funds will be used to expand youth workshops at the second annual Jazz in Nevada County! festival next fall, Curtis said.

She stressed that distribution of the funds by her organization is just in the planning stages. Other ideas include dance workshops and bringing Wynton Marsalis back for a summer concert and workshop. He was the headliner at the Jazz in Nevada County! festival in November.

Workshops and student matinees made possible through the inaugural Exemplary Arts Education Program were so successful, said Foothill Theatre Company Artistic Director Philip Charles Sneed, that he just had to apply again.

“It’s nice when we don’t have to charge the students or the schools,” he said.

The $14,000 awarded last year allowed FTC to present workshops in high school science, history, English and theater classes.

“The subject matter of our play ‘Fair Use’ last year touched on history, mining and geology,” Sneed said. “Sometimes plays make it easier for students to access certain subject matters.”

Three student matinees were free, thanks to the grant money.

This year’s grant money will be used by FTC to bring an abbreviated version of “Grinder’s Stand” to schools. The historical play will be presented at Nevada Theatre from May 2-26.

“Some schools can’t afford the buses, so we want to take theater to the school,” said Sneed. Two of at least four schools are already chosen.

Workshops will be presented by FTC staff again, this time in both junior high and high school classes.

Azriel Getz, North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center’s executive director, and Diana Pasquini, Grizzly Hill School’s arts specialist, completed the grant application in three weeks.

“Diana Pasquini and I jumped on it,” Getz said. “This is very exciting. For one thing, Diana and I have talked for six months prior about strengthening the partnership between the school and the cultural center. This is the perfect opportunity.”

The $15,650 will go toward a mentoring artists program and a global awareness program.

Some 20 to 30 artists in several genres, from dancers to painters, will give workshops at Oaktree Community and Grizzly Hill schools. Some of the workshops will also be offered after school at the cultural center.

“Diana’s emphasis is on integrating the arts into the curriculum,” Getz said. “She wants the art things that will happen not to be just an extra occurrence but really integrated into the school’s regular classrooms.”

A few artists teaching singing and movement already meet weekly at Grizzly Hill School. “We’re starting slowly, and by March we’ll have it in full steam,” Getz said.

For the global awareness program, about six performances highlighting different cultures will be presented at San Juan Ridge schools. The same performers might present a different version for the public at the Schoolhouse.

The program kicks off Feb. 1 when the Gaden Shartse Monastery monks from India lead art projects at both schools. That night, the monks will give a public sacred dance, sacred music performances and a dharma talk at the Schoolhouse.

The Exemplary Arts Education Program will award about $2 million this year to 165 nonprofit arts organizations throughout the state, said Wayne Cook, the California Arts Council manager of arts and education.

“We’re looking to strengthen the partnership between schools and art organizations,” Cook added. “Organizations awarded money under this grant have a good history of working with schools.”


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