The California Arts Council has named Truckee a California cultural district, bringing enhanced opportunity for economic growth and support of its vibrant art, historic, and environmental areas |

The California Arts Council has named Truckee a California cultural district, bringing enhanced opportunity for economic growth and support of its vibrant art, historic, and environmental areas

The Donner Party Memorial is part of Truckee's long list of historical assets.
Courtesy of Michelle Erskinne |

Truckee is a hub of creativity, inhabited by talented, mindful people who share a deeply rooted passion for the outdoors.

Its rich history, art scene and awe-inspiring terrain of the high Sierra are assets to the community, which foster Truckee’s unique culture.

The California Arts Council has officially designated Truckee as one of California’s premier state-designated cultural districts.

“It’s extremely exciting to gain recognition for the robust culture and art community that we already know exists here in Truckee,” said Hilary Hobbs, management analyst for the town of Truckee, who was one of several people working on the application submission to be named an official cultural district of the state.

“The long-term potential for Truckee as a cultural district is supporting local artists and makers, and really building an audience and a market for the activities that are already vibrant and happening here,” she said.

The Arts Council’s goal, Hobbs explained, was to include broad diversity in the types of districts they would choose to represent California: from urban to rural to suburban cities.

The cities nominated from each region also needed to incorporate history and art in their definition of the word ‘culture’ — a requirement that aligns with Truckee’s vibrant atmosphere.

“Truckee hit a lot of those goals because we do have an emerging art scene, an established art scene with artists, as well as art activities and the performing arts. We also have a rich history as a gateway to western migration and an authentic, historic downtown; and we were the one applicant from the High Sierra region.”

The application process was carried out by several local entities, all championing the mission of expanding Truckee’s cultural reach and showing the depth of the town.

Colleen Dalton, brand communications director of the Truckee Chamber of Commerce, said it was a team effort to gain this recognition with the Arts Council.

“Once we learned about the California Arts Council opportunity and teamed up with the town of Truckee, Truckee Public Arts Commission, and Truckee Arts Alliance — we accelerated our existing plans for the Arts and Cultural microsite located at, and reshaped the rollout to match CAC’s requirements for a “Cultural Asset Inventory”,” she said.

Dalton explained that through their efforts of strategically naming and making accessible various cultural assets around Truckee, they ended up with more than 100 entries, which qualifies the town as a cultural district.

“Along with the opening of the Makerspace, it seems that so many events were already in motion that, serendipitously speaking, helped make the award happen,” she said.

Hobbs explained the significance of the award from an economic perspective.

“This designation can be used as a marketing tool,” she said.

She explained that the cultural district designation allows the professionals behind Truckee’s marketing efforts to receive support from the California Arts Council in developing their own unique Truckee marketing materials, branding on, and developing maps and brochures.

“It really connects up with the town and the chamber of commerce’s shared goals of helping smooth out our economy and visitation so we’re not getting rid of our ski economy, but there are other things going on. If we have a poor ski year, for example, or during shoulder season, we’re showing that there are other reasons for visitors to come to Truckee as well as amenities and activities for locals,” Hobbs said.

The cultural district designation allows the Truckee Town Hall, Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, Truckee Public Arts Commission, and Truckee Arts Alliance to join their mission statements to support the rich culture found here.

They aim to further support and promote an advocacy for public art, installation art, exhibits and art events, and to unify the diverse, creative community to catalyze and inspire cultural contributions in the community.

Hobbs encourages locals and visitors to get outside, enjoy the beautiful scenery, history and art that can be found throughout the town.

“Come check out our historic downtown, galleries, performing arts and history,” she said.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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