Submitted by Robin Davies for April 17 Money Monday

         For more than a century, the chambers of commerce in Grass Valley and Nevada City have collaborated on special events, including the annual July 4th parades and post-parade festivities at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Also, over the years there have been joint meetings of the city councils of Grass Valley and Nevada City to discuss common issues and work toward consensus on how best to address those issues.

But a proposal brought forward by Nevada County Arts Council Executive Director, Eliza Tudor, has our two communities partnering–– government bodies and chambers of commerce alike–– in a way not previously attempted.
The aim of the five-agency collaborative effort is to be recognized by the California Arts Council as an “Emerging Rural Cultural District,” and be selected for participation in the CAC’s pilot Cultural District program.

If accepted into the pilot program, the proposed Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District would benefit from CAC technical assistance, joint marketing support, branding assistance, and a $5,000 stipend to assist the local committee as it plans and implements a local $38,000 pilot program.

The City of Grass Valley is serving as the lead agency, represented by interim City Manager Tim Kiser. Other designated representatives include Mark Prestwich, City Manager of Nevada City; Cathy Whittlesey, Executive Director of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce; and Eliza Tudor, Executive Director of the Nevada County Arts Council.  And I’m pleased to say that I am representing the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce as we work together to bring a new level of attention to Western Nevada County art and culture.

The proposal reflects a joint effort that we believe represents the epitome of collaboration, resulting in government and promotional organizations working together to help enhance what is already one of the strongest cultural areas in Northern California.

As noted in our March application for CAC recognition, “Grass Valley and Nevada City live and breathe arts and culture, having a disproportionate number of arts organizations and practicing artists across all disciplines. The area is steeped in California history with the Grass Valley Gold District enjoying a reputation as the richest and most famous gold-mining district in California and, in the Nevada City Gold District, the location where hydraulic mining was first practiced in California.”

Our application pointed out that, “Numerous assets exist within the Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District including more than 100 arts and cultural organizations. Between Grass Valley and Nevada City, the arts provide the county with an estimated $11 million in economic benefits and 320 jobs, extrapolating from a cultural survey by Nevada County Arts in 2010.”

            For instance, at our GGVCC Visitors Center on East Main Street, major art and cultural organizations, including the Nevada County Arts Council, The Center for the Arts, InConcert Sierra, Music in the Mountains, Nevada County Digital Media Center, The Empire Mine and Empire Mine Park Association, and Sierra Vintners Association, all have active video displays and material promoting their organizations and current events.

In Nevada City, its chamber of commerce has recognized art as an important component of the local economy by presenting the Dr. Leland & Sally Lewis Awards for both the performing and visual arts.  Those awards have been presented annually since 1983.

The cultural amenities of Western Nevada County draw thousands of visitors to this area yearly, and many have decided to return permanently as business owners and homeowners.  Our natural beauty, mild climate, and history might initially attract someone here, but it is often our art, music and broad-based culture that keeps them coming back.

Being accepted into the new California Arts Council’s program would be a boon for Western Nevada County, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that later this week we will be notified that we are among the semi-finalists for CAC’s pilot Cultural District program.

If we make it through the first phase, a committee from CAC will travel here for a visit; then a final decision will be made sometime in July.

No matter what happens later this month when the CAC announces the semi-finalists, cataloging Grass Valley’s Cultural Assets has been a rewarding experience, and it’s exciting to be part of an important, collaborative effort –– perhaps the most comprehensive partnership between local government and promotional organizations undertaken in our community in recent times.

Stay tuned!


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