Nevada County’s artists show their strength at California Arts Council meeting | SierraSun.com

Nevada County’s artists show their strength at California Arts Council meeting

Liz Kellar
The Union

Nevada County's art community got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have its collective voice heard Thursday, when the California Arts Council held one of its five annual public meetings at the Miners Foundry.

Close to 140 stakeholders packed the room in a graphic demonstration of just how rich and diverse the arts scene is in Nevada County. Speakers during public comment included Jesse Locks of the Nevada City Film Festival, Amber Jo Manuel from The Center for the Arts, Yuba Lit founder Rachel Howard, Julie Hardin from InConcert Sierra and Amee Medeiros of Neighborhood Center for the Arts.

Many referenced the hard work of Nevada County Arts Council Executive Director Eliza Tudor, who helped spearhead the push to have Truckee, Grass Valley and Nevada City designated as California Cultural Districts and who hosted the meeting in conjunction with the Miners Foundry.

Tudor had sent out a letter to those stakeholders, urging them to attend and "show the California Arts Council how significant our two state designations as California Cultural Districts in Nevada County are for us."

And speak out they did, stretching public comment well into the lunch hour.

Artist Ruth Chase told the council that Tudor was a big help in becoming a working artist in her own community.

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In a small town, many artists often feel very removed from the larger art world, she said, adding that for many years she had to seek projects and funding in Los Angeles.

"Conceptual art is not something that usually goes with rural counties — or so I thought," Chase said, referencing a "discouraging" 16-year span of living in Nevada County and not being able to make a living here.

Locks and Michelle Amador, who works for Brooklyn-based Mark Morris Dance Group, highlighted the cultural district as a way to leverage better representation on the statewide and national arts stage.

"Investing in rural arts provides equity on a broader scale," Amador said. "Representation matters."

Grass Valley Mayor Howard Levine drew an enthusiastic response from the audience when he reminded the council that Pulitzer prize-winning poet and San Juan Ridge resident Gary Snyder sat on its first board, adding, "Rural could always be more represented."

California Arts Council Vice Chair Larry Baza called the public comment a highlight of the meeting, citing the robust turnout.

"Rural you may be, but certainly your work is big and your dedication is even bigger," he said. "It's important for us to hear what this community has to say."

After the meeting, Tudor called the council meeting a coup for Nevada County.

"I was startled and moved by the sheer numbers of local artists, arts leaders, and key people in local government, business and hospitality sectors," she said. "Over 150 people showed up in support of the arts in our community, our state cultural districts and the work of Nevada County Arts Council. We are incredibly thankful."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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For more information on the Nevada County Arts Council, go to http://www.nevadacountyarts.org.