Other Voices: Group works for the good of the arts | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Group works for the good of the arts

Editor’s note: On Dec. 12, The Union reported that a movement was quietly growing to study the feasibility of building a full-scale performing arts center in the county. The committee chairman of the effort weighs in on the group’s progress and vision.

Many of our fellow citizens work tirelessly behind the scenes to help our arts community thrive and prosper. They do this not only for what it does for our spirits, but also because they know it helps our local economy.

One group of these folks is a dozen volunteers called The Nevada County Committee for the Arts. We would like to introduce our countywide effort to you, update you on our progress and share our plans for the future.

It all started in the fall of 2005 when Frank and LaVonne Amaral commissioned a study to determine the feasibility of building a comprehensive arts center. When the results of this study were positive, our group was formed to explore strategies for moving forward.

Although most of the members of our group are also involved with one or more local arts organizations, our mission is to find solutions that help the entire artistic community, including visual, literary and performing arts. We are steering the processes that will identify problems and opportunities, craft solutions and secure the funding to implement those solutions.

Our first order of business was to enlist input from as many of the artists and arts organizations as possible. To that end, a gathering was held that was attended by 56 individuals, including representatives of 23 different organizations. It quickly became apparent that our vision should encompass much more than facilities alone – it should also include other collaborative efforts.

We then set out to determine what our projects should be, how much they will cost and how to fund them. A subsequent workshop was held with 36 in attendance from 18 organizations.

We found that there was consensus on the desire to share resources (such as a central box office, events calendar, Web site and marketing), as well as the need for an organization to represent and support all of the arts. We also discovered that we don’t have communitywide knowledge of or an agreement on what our facility needs are, what is lacking and how to fill our unmet needs. This dilemma pointed us to the solution of conducting an arts needs assessment, done by an outside professional organization.

We realize that there have been similar studies done in the past. However, we believe that we need current information that includes not only the many changes in facilities that have been completed but also those that may be planned. This will give us a new road map forward. We also believe that we will greatly benefit from the independent objectivity of an outside firm that has experience working with communities similar to ours.

Last year, our group began the search for a firm to conduct our survey. After many interviews and analyses of comprehensive proposals, a firm was selected that we feel will do the best job. This firm will assist us in identifying the most strategic leadership path to best address our community’s cultural future.

The firm will examine our collaborative resource-sharing initiatives and make recommendations for them. They will also assess the arts facility needs of our community, examine which of those needs are not currently being met and recommend strategies to realize solutions to bridge the gap between what we have and what we need. Those solutions could include improving our existing venues, building new ones or some combination.

We are now in the process of raising the money from arts supporters in our community to hire this firm. We expect that the next news you hear from us will be that we have reached our goal and are moving full speed ahead.

We are continuing and expanding our collaborative work within the arts community, as well as beginning to forge alliances with other county leaders. We are also visiting similar communities that have successfully implemented projects like ours, to learn from their successes and stumbles.

We want to facilitate great things for the arts in Nevada County. We want to build on the strong reputation of our community as a destination for the arts. We envision a future for the arts that will make us all proud, bolster our economy, lift our spirits and enrich the very soul of our community.


Terry Brown is the chair of the Nevada County Committee of the Arts. He has been involved in the county arts community since arriving here in 1978 as a manager, director and performer.

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