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Collaborate on arts, local leaders advise

Area art organizations and governments must collaborate and take a regional approach to promoting the arts to see growth in the sector, panelists said at a first-of-its-kind meeting in Grass Valley Friday.

Creating a centralized art resource and network with a common plan rather than many separate “fiefdoms” is needed before local governments will offer assistance, members of a panel said.

Grass Valley and Nevada City should scrap their historic competition to create a regional arts festival similar to Reno’s Artown, suggested Julie Baker, the Nevada City owner of Julie Baker Fine Arts online.



“We’re five minutes apart,” Baker said. “Collaboration is the key, and we can’t only depend on locals.”

The Union has published a series of articles showing the enormous impact the arts has on the area’s economy, including payroll and money spent by tourists on lodging, restaurants and recreation.




About 60 people attended the gathering, including representatives from businesses and governments in Nevada County, Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee.

But young artists were “underrepresented,” said Jesse Locks, of the recent Nevada City Film Festival. Many would volunteer to help, if asked, she added. “We’re kind of the future of it.”

Get a plan

Government leaders agreed the arts are important to the economy and draw people just as good schools and roads do.

But their ability to support the arts is limited by dwindling revenue, competing services and the threat of state raids on county coffers, said county District 1 Supervisor Nate Beason.

Art groups must develop a plan before seeking government’s help, Beason said.

District 5 Supervisor Ted Owens suggested establishing a county arts subcommittee.

“We have to think beyond our geopolitical barriers,” said Rich Valentine, board member of the Arts and Culture Council of Truckee and Tahoe. “Government has a lot to gain in generating tax and economic stability …

“What an average visitor to our area spends is $250 per day,” Valentine added.

Filling local venues

Much discussion centered around the failed attempt to raise $65,000 to study the possibility of building a performing arts center.

But a recession is not the time to build a new venue, Nevada City Interim Councilwoman Sally Harris said.

Several people suggested revitalizing existing venues.

“We’re already struggling to get our smaller venues filled over 60 percent,” said Jon Blinder, of the Center for the Arts board of directors.

The Amaral Family Center at the fairgrounds can seat 800 people, Nevada County Fair CEO Ed Scofield said.

Nevada City Mayor Barbara Coffman suggested an “arts assets evaluation” and a one-stop office for tourists and artists to find venue and ticket information.

To contact Pam Jung, e-mail pjung@theunion.com or call 477-4232. To contact Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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