July 2018 | One year on - what does it mean?

What does it mean for Nevada County that it is unique in rural California as having two state designations? Importantly, what is a California Cultural District? 

It's been one year since receiving our state designation. In that time - East and West - we have explored this question with you. Collectively, we've facilitated and supported workshops and community conversations on creative placemaking and public art policy and planning, and have asked fundamental questions about our sense of belonging and our identity - and how we wish to become known.


At our first gathering, we considered a question put to us by California Arts Council. What should our priorities be for the first two years of our five year designations? We also considered this a means to measure progress against these priorities.

Together, we figured that committing to a few years of cultural planning could provide a focus for conversations around how our state designations might truly serve our individual communities. This felt important to us, coupled with marketing our districts, within and beyond county lines, and creating the infrastructure to support them.


With marketing in mind, our two cultural districts took a step towards creating meaningful brands and Nevada County Arts Council formed a partnership with Sierra FoodWineArt to inaugurate a Nevada County Visual Artist & Gallery Guide. Towards cultural planning, we reached out to Americans for the Arts to collaborate on a countywide Arts Economic Impact Study. For Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District, we also committed to an exhaustive "State of the Arts" Education Survey across Western Nevada County schools.

Those of you who are arts organizations, creative businesses or producers of creative projects - or if you are a school principal or educator - you will have heard from us in relation to each of these initiatives. For audience members across the county, you will have seen us at fairs, festivals and cultural events, working the crowds, gathering audience surveys, and doing the groundwork in terms of cultural planning. Both studies will be complete in their published forms within the next six months. And this is just the beginning.

public art PLANNING

In Truckee, Truckee Cultural District partners have been mapping the initial stages of their own arts planning by asking the Town of Truckee to lead on the development of its first Public Art Master Plan. You can find out more about this here.

We hope that this exciting process will catch on for Grass Valley and Nevada City - and, in terms of knowledge and skills sharing, are already excited by the genuinely collaborative nature of our community leaders and you, our public.

cultural asset mapping

As we take stock of our cultural assets, it feels like the moment to launch some truly beautiful digital mapping of Nevada County. This, in the context of cultural planning, will help us:

  • Identify our creative people, organizations, businesses and neighborhood resources - and how they connect with each other.

  • So, too, our historical places and sacred spaces

  • Identify our creative and cultural issues, including creative space issues, challenges and opportunities

  • Plan for and promote cultural tourism

  • Highlight better ways of engaging our creative assets and resources

How do we fund all this - together with our planning and marketing efforts? Not all California Cultural Districts benefit from long-term endowments, municipal measures or ordinances, County appropriations, or community foundation benefactions. Here in Nevada County we are nurturing relationships with each of our respective cultural district partners, and - for now - these partnerships are allowing us to work on meaningful bite-size projects.

we thank our financial partners:

City of Grass Valley

City of Nevada City

Town of Truckee

Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

Truckee Chamber of Commerce

Nevada County Economic Resource Council

In addition to Nevada County Arts Council's leadership role, Truckee Public Art Commission and Truckee Arts Alliance play key roles in engaging the arts community in Truckee, providing consultation and being an invaluable part of Truckee Cultural District's Advisory Committee.

For Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District, we hope to work more closely with Grass Valley Downtown Association, in the same way that Truckee Cultural District is working collaboratively with the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association.

how can you get involved?

As we have over the past year, we'll be providing California Cultural District updates in our monthly newsletters. Please write to us if you have questions, or want to get involved. This year there will be plenty of volunteer work in marketing, social media, content creation, outreach and community engagement, event management, data analysis and - inevitably, lots of admin!!

For now, enjoy these links for further reading:

Enjoy a one-minute video introducing the California Cultural Districts















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