3 weeks ago

Destination Nevada County

Premium visitors magazine for Nevada County produced by the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce

Start With Art Interview

Start With Art Interview with Eliza Tudor Executive Director, Nevada County Arts Council In July of this year, California Arts Council announced a brand new state program, California Cultural Districts, aimed at leveraging the state’s artistic and cultural assets. Fourteen districts were selected for the inaugural program, highlighting the thriving cultural diversity and unique artistic identities within local communities across California. Nevada County was the only rural county to have two districts designated: Nevada City-Grass Valley and Truckee. We talked with Eliza Tudor, Executive Director of Nevada County Arts Council, who—since 2016— has been working hard to put Nevada County’s preeminent arts scene on the map. What is a Cultural District and why is it significant? The state defines a Cultural District as an area that’s rich in culture, that celebrates diversity and that protects its cultural assets. When I consider California Arts Council’s announcement, the values that were expressed ring loud and clear. Cultural Districts will nurture and sustain “authentic grassroots arts and cultural opportunities, increase the visibility of local artists and community participation in local arts and culture, and promote socioeconomic and ethnic diversity.” What are Cultural Assets? For us—it’s the arts organizations we hold so dear, our festivals and street fairs, our artists, musicians and producers, our high-tech creatives, our public art and our arts champions, and the many ways our arts community collaborates with other sectors in service to the community. What are the benefits of designation? California Arts Council conducted research spanning the US, and found that common indicators of a successful district are that it’s a place people will travel great distances to; there will be economic influx and revitalization; its arts community will feel supported and protected, and will have a place at the table around all-things community development. Why do you think Nevada City-Grass Valley and Truckee were selected as California Cultural Districts? For Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District its twin city application was a unique element as well as the sheer scope of its cultural assets. Nevada County Arts Council teamed up with the Cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City and both Chambers of Commerce and, together, made explicit their aim to work as one to protect our arts community in all its diversity. For Truckee Cultural District its fresh, innovative melding of culture with the great outdoors and its organizational capacity were exceptional. Truckee’s application demonstrated a strong partnership between The Town of Truckee, Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce and 16 DESTINATION Nevada County

Truckee Public Art Commission, supported by both Truckee Arts Alliance and Nevada County Arts Council. What’s next for our Cultural Districts? It will be important that our communities lean in with us. Nevada County Arts council will work to develop a strong advisory team of stakeholders and to engage the community. Both Truckee and Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural Districts will have unique ways that they do this, and Nevada County Arts Council will be here to guide and support. We have an incredible opportunity to put these designations to work for us – and it will be a whole community effort. What will be critical – and what we hope to see – is the emergence of new community leaders who will steer areas of work, lend their skills, form a team, and create a cultural district family both east and west of our famous Donner Pass. What are the first steps? Currently, California Cultural Districts is a designation, not a funding source, so building sustainable funding mechanisms for our cultural districts will be key. First up is a year-long economic impact study of our creative sector to enable us to catch all our seasonal audiences and develop meaningful data. We also want to develop a strong “brand” and we want our community to help us share our story with the world. This includes our rich gold country heritage all the way through to the emergence of our hi-tech industry and our VR/AR creatives. It also includes our unique Nisenan peoples and their culture. What is the role of a regional arts council like Nevada County Arts Council? We are Nevada County’s State-Local Partner with California Arts Council. Our role is to highlight opportunities that might act as a catalyst for community development; the California Cultural District Program being a perfect example. We know that the arts are fundamental to healthy communities—now we need to make this valuation explicit through arts planning. This requires deep community input and leadership, and we think that our California Cultural District designation will help us focus our combined energies on this work. Apart from your active role with our Cultural Districts, what else is Nevada County Arts Council doing? A focus for us is enriching the lives of community members through the arts. For example, we are now entering our third year working with veterans through Image Nation. Our winter exhibition opens in mid-January at the Rood Center, where we will display the work of some seriously talented emerging photographers, curated by nationally renowned photographer Michael Llewellyn. Another of our Artists-in-Residence, Ruth Chase, is rolling out Belonging with help from a California Arts Council Artists in Communities grant. Together, we are demonstrating that artists are a societal cornerstone who bring people together, build community, and foster social progress. Our foresters, ranchers, farmers, and firefighters are part of a key group who are educating our community through paint and film. DESTINATION Nevada County 17