Our region’s leaders embrace state Cultural District honor: “A coming of age for us”

Our region’s civic, business and elected leaders embraced the statewide Cultural District honors for Grass Valley-Nevada City and Truckee in a joint statement on Thursday, calling it a “coming of age for us.”

It pointed to the Nevada County Arts Council and cities “working as one,” adding that the designation officially makes the County “a destination for the arts.” The honor from the California Arts Council coincides with the opening of California WorldFest in Grass Valley on Thursday, one of the state’s most celebrated festivals. 

The joint statement also cited Sierra FoodWineArt magazine for the “rich resource of narrative” and “profound knowledge” that it contributed to the highly competitive application.

The California Arts Council on Monday selected Grass Valley-Nevada City and Truckee as two of California’s state-designated cultural districts. Grass Valley-Nevada City and Truckee Cultural Districts are both situated within Nevada County and join 12 other districts that will launch the innovative new program highlighting thriving cultural diversity and unique artistic identities within California.

Eliza Tudor, executive director at Nevada County Arts Council (NCArts), says: “It is unusual for a rural county such as ours to have two naturally occurring cultural districts – and it was obvious to us from the outset that all three should apply. We are thrilled at – and honored by – the result of this competitive process, and we look forward to supporting both designated areas, helping them to learn from one another and yet to thrive as districts with unique identities.”

The Truckee Cultural District is the result of a partnership between the Town of Truckee, Truckee Public Arts Commission, and Truckee Chamber of Commerce, with support from Truckee Arts Alliance and NCArts.

“We are thrilled that the selection committee chose our unique mountain community as a cultural district,” says Morgan Goodwin, Truckee mayor. “This recognition will allow us to do even more to celebrate the countless ways in which we are preserving our heritage and advancing our strong sense of place.”

“We are very proud of being designated a Cultural District by the California Arts Council. This project represents significant collaborative effort by the cultural community of Truckee,” states Lynn Saunders, president/CEO of Truckee Chamber of Commerce. “It also is in alignment with our economic development initiatives.”

“Recognition of our unique arts and culture as a small mountain town and as an important thread in the fabric of our state’s culture, is not only commendable but so very exciting,” says Robie Litchfield, co-chair of Truckee Public Arts Commission and co-founder of Truckee Arts Alliance.

Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District’s designation is the result of unique twin-city application and, together with Truckee Cultural District, they represent two of only four rural Cultural Districts statewide.

Sierra FoodWineArt cited for its contribution

Tudor says: “For its application, our partners were able to draw upon a rich resource of narrative relating to Grass Valley and Nevada City’s extraordinary cultural heritage, thanks in part to the lifestyle magazine, Sierra FoodWineArt. There are many who helped guide this narrative, but Jeff Pelline was particularly generous with his profound knowledge base and his unique writing style. He’s a storyteller to the core – and understanding our history was a vital piece of our application. We couldn’t be more grateful.” 

Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District can be found deep within California’s Gold Country, where the historic twin cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City merge in the Sierra Foothills amidst pristine rivers and picturesque forests. Home to the Nisenan, the area’s oldest indigenous peoples, the district is rich in cultural histories and the arts, and has an exciting emerging wine culture.

Howard Levine, Grass Valley’s mayor, says: “This designation has been a long-time coming. We are all really pleased to be working as one on this joint venture. The cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City have a strong future together, and with both Chambers and Nevada County Arts Council.”

“It’s fitting that news of our designation, which applies to all three townships within Nevada County – from the Gold Country to the High Sierra – coincides with our 21st annual California WorldFest, one of the most important, innovative and celebrated festivals in California,” says Tudor. “Being formally recognized as California Cultural Districts can be seen as a natural ‘coming of age’ for us.”

Julie Baker, executive director at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, says: “I am not at all surprised Nevada City and Grass Valley received the designation. We fit all the criteria, plus we have the leadership to move the program forward. We live in a rural community with remarkable sophistication and a passion for the arts. It is wonderful to be recognized by our state agency for all the efforts we put forth for the arts in Nevada County, we can now officially be seen as a destination for the arts.”

Tudor says: “A key element to our application for Grass Valley and Nevada Citiy has been our recognition of Nevada County’s oldest indigenous tribespeople, the Nisenan. The Nisenan will play a key role in dialogue and planning around how best to celebrate and nurture their rich cultural heritage.”

Mark Prestwich, city manager, Nevada City, says: “We are thrilled with the California Arts Council’s designation. It reinforces our thriving cultural arts scene and sets the stage for enhanced collaboration between the cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City.” 

“It is a great honor to be selected as one of the 14 Cultural Districts statewide,” says Gretchen Bond, executive director at Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City, “It shows how our two towns, each with our own distinct arts and culture scenes and flavors, can come together to support and showcase the art that is already being created in our community.”  

Bond continues: “Hopefully this great distinction will prove to local and county government what a significant role the arts play in the health and vitality of our communities.”

“State-level designation of Cultural Districts, with California’s diverse geography and regional variety, allowed for an entirely new and comprehensive look at our deeply valued cultural assets,” says Donn K. Harris, California Arts Council chair. “Both Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District’s, and Truckee Cultural District’s personal and generational commitment to these assets speaks of a state deeply invested in the places and people that celebrate local traditions and creativity. ”

“These Cultural Districts showcase California’s cultural diversity and vibrant experiences,” says Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “The districts are one more way to highlight the one-of-a-kind places throughout our state that inspire residents and visitors alike.”

Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District and Truckee Cultural District will receive the designation for a period of five years, per state legislation. Designation, under this pilot launch of the program, includes benefits such as technical assistance, peer-to-peer exchanges, and branding materials and promotional strategy. The California Arts Council has partnered with Visit California and CalTrans for strategic statewide marketing and resource support.

Members of the California Arts Council include Chair Donn K. Harris, Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Larry Baza, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Juan Devis, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Louise McGuinness, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. For more information, visit www.arts.ca.gov.

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