Many who live here or have spent time here know the rich history of the Arts in Nevada County, but it is still something of a mystery to those unfamiliar with our past and present. I first visited Nevada County over 35 years ago and moved here almost 30 years ago. It was quickly apparent to this New Yorker that I had arrived in a community for which simple descriptions were not adequate. Had I come to a historical and remarkably well-preserved Gold Rush community? Or was it for the abundance of natural beauty? Or, had I come upon a small Foothills destination that was as hip and interested in the Arts as my recent home in NYC? Through the years I have found my answer.
In 1976, Governor Jerry Brown founded the California Arts Council with the help of his friend, Gary Snyder. An internationally renowned Beat Poet, Pulitzer Prize winner and Nevada County resident, Snyder became its first Executive Director. California was beginning to recognize the value of supporting the Arts, and with the founding of arts organizations, the community coalesced and in earnest began the recent clarion call for Nevada County’s recognition as an Arts destination. Artists have long been the pioneers who move to lesser-known communities or neighborhoods both in cities and rural areas. They have been coming to Nevada County since the 1800’s, and they are still arriving.
As the community has come together to support the Arts, a striking new development has occurred to up the ante. Throughout this magazine, you will see the logo of the California Arts Council’s most recent statewide program that designates California Cultural Districts. Nevada County is one of only 14 communities (urban, suburban and rural) selected for this distinctive honor and both Grass Valley/Nevada City and the Town of Truckee have won a Rural Designation.