At the center of it all |

At the center of it all

Three years ago, the Center for the Arts was in danger of closing its doors. Years of financial hardship and a lack of programming focus had taken their toll.

Thankfully, with the commitment of new leadership, key donors and friends, the staff, board and volunteers, the Center is now a leading performing arts center in Northern California, a venue of growing renown among touring artists, a home for many visual and literary artists and musicians in our community and an anchor institution among nonprofits in Nevada County.

What happened over the three years to transform an organization in jeopardy into a thriving arts center at the heart of our community? There were many factors, but the most important has been the support we have received from you, members of our community who joined, sponsored events, purchased tickets, volunteered, performed and provided the support to make the Center your community arts center. We thank you for your belief that the arts can make a difference and for supporting the Center as an investment in our community.

We’ve been told the Center’s program quality and consistency is extraordinary for a community of our size, and this year we’ve really picked up the pace! Over the last eight months, we’ve presented seven outstanding headlining shows at the Veterans Building and nearly 100 intimate events at the Center, presented our first concerts at the Nevada County Fairgrounds with classic country legend Willie Nelson, in a benefit for Bear Yuba Land Trust, and Merle Haggard, co-presented a concert with the Music in the Mountains Orchestra, created an event to build awareness of men’s health issues with Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, expanded our youth after-school and summer programs and introduced a news series of family friendly programming.

What can the arts do that no other business  or organization can do?

In addition, our commitment to collaboration continues through our community nonprofit partnership program. We are pleased to announce that this year we’ve already helped raise more than $35,000 for other area nonprofits.

We continually ask ourselves how can we serve the community better? What value can we provide that will fulfill a cultural need? What can the arts do that no other business or organization can do? We want and need your feedback, so be on the lookout for our community survey in the next month.

Our goal now is not just to survive but also to sustain and grow our programming, offerings and value. A sustainable arts center relies on a strong base of new and renewing members, business sponsors and donors.

If you come to the Center for performances and purchase tickets, we thank you, but we also want you to know that attendance at events alone won’t keep the Center alive. Your ticket purchases pay for programs but do not cover the Center’s operational expenses, which are about 60 percent of our total budget. It is that simple.

So now we ask that you become an investor by joining, renewing or upgrading your membership in the Center during our fall membership drive. Membership starts at $50 and is an investment in what you want the Center to be in our community.

We hear about your enthusiasm for the Center. Please take the next step to join — or renew or upgrade your membership. With your support we will continue to be your Center for the Arts, where the arts happen in Nevada County.

Barbara Thomas is board president for the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

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