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‘The arts are essential’: Center for the Arts launches emergency relief fund


To donate to the Center for the Arts Relief Fund visit: http://www.thecenterforthearts.org/emergency-fund

After an 18-month, multimillion-dollar renovation, The Center for the Arts in downtown Grass Valley was set to showcase its state-of-the-art facility with a series of concerts and shows starting in March.

The Center was open for just one day before again having to close its doors to the public.

“We were extremely disappointed,” said Executive Director Amber Jo Manuel. “All of the staff is amazing at the Center and we had all worked so hard and we were ready. We were ready to put on a ton of shows at the center. We had everything in place and had worked overtime for about six weeks — weekends, evenings, around the clock — to get the building ready for the public, and ready for these shows after being closed for 18 months. So, it was extremely disappointing. It really knocked the wind out of our sails.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order, the Center remains closed and its leadership is looking for ways to stay afloat financially while awaiting further guidance from state and county officials.

“When I go into that space and I see how beautiful it is and I see what we’ve created for the community, it’s heartbreaking to know that no one has seen it and it may be a long time before anyone sees it,” said Manuel, who has been running the facility since 2016 and oversaw the renovation. “The seats, the speakers and the bar equipment will just sit there gathering dust until we’re allowed to put on a show again.”

All shows have been postponed through June 15.

With no money coming in from ticket and bar sales, the Center, which is a nonprofit organization, expects to miss out on nearly $900,000 in revenue if the venue remains closed through June. According to a disaster economic injury estimate, the Center projects to lose $426,298 in ticket sales, $108,486 in bar revenue and $342,500 from the cancellation of annual summer draw of WorldFest.

Folk singer Arlo Guthrie, comedian Tom Papa, The Allman Betts Band and a gallery exhibit “Off The Wall,” which featured the work of several artists, are just some of the events that have been rescheduled.

“We’ve done something magical here,” said Manuel. “It is going be the crown jewel of the community. It is a gorgeous space with a fantastic sound system. The lobby is a modern, beautiful art gallery and the bar is fully equipped with everything.

“We just can’t believe we can’t share it with people, that’s what’s so heartbreaking.”


In addition to applying for aid through the federal government’s stimulus package, the Center is also asking for assistance from the community. There is a relief fund set up on the center’s website with a goal of $150,000, which Manuel said would keep them going through the summer.

“It’s unfortunate timing,” Manuel said, noting the center’s mortgage payments are set to begin this month. “We had a financial model that we were going to have no problem paying our mortgage if we had shows, and now we have no shows.”

Nearly 300 donors have already pitched in a combined total of $58,593 as of Friday afternoon, some leaving messages of encouragement for the Center.

“(The Center) is such an important part of what makes Nevada County a great place to live. Not only do you bring amazing performers to our area, but your staff are the nicest people! I would be heartbroken if we lost you. Hang in there!” one donor wrote.

Another added, “The Center is the most amazing place. Thank you for reaching out and asking for help. It is an honor to be part of this “rescue” effort.”

Manuel said the Center also has three anonymous donors who have promised to match community contributions up to $75,000 ($25,000 per anonymous donor).

“It’s fantastic. It almost makes you want to cry,” said Manuel. “The community has been so supportive, when you see the $10 and $20 donations, people are doing what they can to support us.”

Manuel added there are several plans in place for reopening, but not having an exact timetable to work from complicates things. She is adamant, though, the Center will be ready when the time comes and will be better than ever.

“I believe the arts are essential,” Manuel said. “The arts can have such an incredible ability to heal in times of crises and we want the Center to be here for a long time, so we can be the together point for the community. We want to be that place where people come together and share art and have an experience.”

Visit http://www.thecenterforthearts.org to learn more about The Center for the Arts or donate to its relief fund.


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To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com or call 530-477-4232.

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