Arts and Creativity as Social and Economic Drivers

During 2019 we completed our seminal study of cultural assets for their economic impact, as well as a key survey of arts education in our schools. We also developed a public facing digital cultural asset map to help drive tourism in our California Cultural Districts and Nevada County more broadly. After all, we know what the statistics tell us – that cultural tourists stay longer and spend more. 

But it’s not just about tourism, it’s about knowing who we are and where we’ve come from – our places, our people and our stories – and where we are going. You – our stakeholders – told us: “Without this data, how can we plan for our future?”

Why should we plan?

Our surveys are a key component of countywide cultural planning. They recognize that Nevada County is unique in California as the only rural county home to two state-designated California Cultural Districts—Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District and Truckee Cultural District. They take into account the support for, and reinvigoration of, arts education in our schools—as well as the broader social and economic value of arts and culture. In the context of planning, they are designed to assist local leaders across all sectors in making decisions that will affect future generations, our quality of life, the livability of our region, and the likelihood of investment in it in years to come. 

Arts & Economic Prosperity in Nevada County

Our economic impact study, consulted by Americans for the Arts and published in April this year, provided evidence that our cultural sector is a significant industry in Nevada County—one that generates $46.9 million in total economic activity. This annual spending—$25.7 million by organizations and $21.2 million in event-related spending by their audiences—supports 869 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $20.9 million in household income to local residents, and delivers $5.1 million in local and state government revenue. So when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in Nevada County’s economic well-being. 

The State of the Arts – Arts Instruction K-12 in Public Schools

Meanwhile, our Arts Instruction K-12 in Public Schools Survey pointed to a need for more comprehensive arts curriculum in all schools, ensuring equity and access to Visual and Performing Arts Standards for all students. Additionally, to a need for professional development in how to integrate arts education within other academic disciplines. With input from teachers, parents, students, administrators, district board members and arts organizations across the county, our recommendations included the need for a comprehensive strategic plan to guide efforts in this direction.

The good news

Our education survey meant that we were eligible to apply for special strategic arts education planning support via California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. Together with Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, and with funding from the Stuart Foundation to support consulting from the California Alliance for Arts Education, we are gathering during late 2019 and early 2020 to develop this Strategic Arts Plan.

Enjoy our Cultural Asset Map

Nevada County and its California Cultural Districts are rich in cultural histories, creativity and the arts. We boast outstanding year-round programming in music, theatre and dance; a density of artists and makers; and an unmatched festival culture. We are home to numerous galleries, wineries, workshops, museums, events, trails, hospitality and historic landmarks, each a highlight of our cultural heritage.

In 2019 we completed an interactive map of our cultural assets. Our map is a critical tool for both our own community and those planning a visit. The cultural resource inventory that fuels our map is maintained and managed by Nevada County Arts Council and made available for public use. Please enjoy it, share it and help us keep it current by letting us know of changes or additions!


Looking ahead, knowing that the California Cultural District Program is opening the doors to increased competition and brand-new districts, we ask ourselves and you: what do we want and how do we make this happen? During 2019 and 2020 we will continue our work in cultural planning and advocacy of public funding, while celebrating our core California Cultural District partners and stakeholders.

A Reminder for our California Cultural District resources!

A reminder to our creative local business, our artists and our arts organizations of these great resources:

  • Become a member of Nevada County Arts Council here!

  • Have a story you think the world should know about? Submit your story here

  • If you are an artist, create a profile here

  • Post your events at our Community Arts Calendar here

  • Subscribe to our Nevada County Arts Council’s monthly newsletter here

  • Sign up for Culture Connection, Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District’s bi-weekly newsletter here

  • Get Truckee Arts Alliance’s monthly newsletter here

  • Send us your Call to Artists info and we'll put it here

  • For our visual arts community, make sure you take advantage of our Annual Nevada County Visual Artist & Gallery Guide here

  • Interested in co-hosting an Artist Gathering with us? Email us here

  • Get involved with Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District and Truckee Cultural District - let us know you are interested here!















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