Invest in Arts and Heritage in the Sierra Foothills

“Green’s the color of Spring and green can be cool and friendly-like.”

We recently brought our 6th-grade son with us to hear jazz legend Wynton Marsalis perform in Grass Valley for a music appreciation experience.

When Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra played the popular Kermit the Frog sing-along “It’s not easy being green,” as well as Count Basie and Duke Ellington classics, our child was beaming.

I was reminded that our region is in the midst of a generational transformation. Long known for our world-class recreation—hiking, biking, swimming and fishing—we are drawing more and more world-class musical performers for families such as ours to enjoy.

It has helped to create arts and culture getaways in the foothills. In our case, we ate dinner beforehand in downtown Grass Valley, helping to provide a “New Engine for Economic Growth,” as a recent report for the California Arts Council said. “Arts touch the economy at crucial leverage points, including entrepreneurship, employment and revitalization.”

But it does not come without investments: We support The Center for the Arts, InConcert Sierra, Music in the Mountains, the Auburn Symphony and other performing arts nonprofits. Ticket sales alone do not sustain world-class performances.

Across the state, a “call to arms” is underway to increase funding for the arts. Earlier this year, legislation was introduced to restore funding to the California Arts Council to $25 million annually. Our region’s arts leaders traveled to Sacramento for the announcement.

Preserve Our Past

Along with plans to invest more in our arts and culture, an effort is underway to preserve our heritage. One example: Saving the iconic Bridgeport wooden covered bridge at South Yuba River State Park.

State Parks closed the bridge three years ago after engineers found unsafe structural problems. Governor Brown recently allocated funds needed to repair the bridge— more than $1 million—and a grass-roots letter writing campaign is underway to help make sure the funds stay in the final budget.

South Yuba River State Park attracts up to 890,000 annual visitors and people from all over the world come to see Bridgeport, a Gold Rush-era toll bridge built in 1862.

All told, we need to invest in our arts and heritage, because it distinguishes our region and is an engine for growth.

(Photos: John Taber and Michael Weissenborn)

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