Nevada County CA’s booming arts and culture scene

CALIFORNIA IS WORLD RENOWNED FOR ITS arts and culture — from Hollywood, the Getty Museum and Walt Disney Concert Hall in the south to San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, the Mondavi Center and Crocker Art Museum in the north.

Our region, though smaller than a big city on the coast, is gaining more visibility as well. We are drawing world-class musicians — Joan Baez, Willie Nelson, Joshua Bell and Randy Newman, to name a few — thanks to The Center for the Arts, InConcert Sierra, Music in the Mountain and others.

Our community theater groups, including Sierra Stages and Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra, are winning prestigious Sacramento Regional Theater Alliance awards for their productions. Nevada County Arts also is making its mark on the local arts and culture scene, sponsoring arts festivals and open studio tours in Grass Valley and Truckee.

In addition, famous local artists — from poet Gary Snyder in Nevada County to sculptor Douglas Van Howd in Placer County — are winning more acclaim. Van Howd just unveiled a new 8-foot-tall bronze statue of Ronald Reagan at the State Capitol. Snyder, whose home on the San Juan Ridge is Kitkitdizze, has a new collection of poems, This Present Moment: New Poems, and he has been reading them at gatherings throughout the state.

Our local arts groups also are collaborating with others to secure more arts funding. This spring, arts leaders convened in Sacramento to honor legislative “arts champions,” who have been advocates for increasing funding to the California Arts Council. Julie Baker, executive director of The Center for the Arts, presented one of the awards to state Senator Jim Nielsen. In May, Governor Jerry Brown’s budget provided the California Arts Council with $8.3 million, the biggest permanent increase in over a decade.

“A Mountain Figure”

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder and Governor Jerry Brown have a long-time friendship. In the ‘70s and ’80s, Brown, then the governor of California the first time, came to Kitkitdizze to meditate. (“He’s a mountain figure,” Snyder told The New Yorker. “A kind of tattered, workingman’s Buddha. He’s always been one of my allies.”)

In 1975, Brown appointed Snyder the first chairman of a new artist-run state arts commission known as the California Arts Council.

(Photo: Brian Cahn/ZUMA Wire)

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