Frequently Asked Questions

1.     What is the California Cultural District Program?

The California Arts Council’s cultural districts program is the result of Assembly Bill 189. With the adoption of AB 189, the state legislature put in place an important new tool for the development, support, and preservation of California’s extensive and diverse cultural assets. 

A cultural district is generally understood as a well-defined geographic area with a high concentration of cultural resources and activities.

Donn Harris, Chair of California Arts Council, says: “Our goal with the pilot launch of this new program was to support a group of districts that met high but broad standards of coherence, vision, and purpose – ones that could set an example for districts that will follow as the program develops and grows.”

2.     How did California Arts Council develop the California Cultural District Program?

A consultation team compiled information on cultural districts nationally, including program materials and evaluations from several state programs, and conducted interviews with 25 selected local and national experts and thought leaders in a number of fields. Respondents include arts administrators, artists, community developers, and government officials, among others.

3.     What is evidence of a successful California Cultural District?

  • It’s a destination
  • Economic influx and revitalization
  • Retention of artists and arts organization
  • Retention of homegrown assets and uses
  • Inclusive development

4.     What was the process of application like?

The multi-phase application process was competitive. Forty-seven communities statewide applied for designation, part of the process requiring the creation of cultural asset inventories, from which partners from each district were then asked to create a Cultural Asset Map. A site visit by the state was the last step in the process.

5.     What are cultural assets

Our cultural assets are our arts organizations, our artists, our arts leaders, our historical and sacred spaces, our libraries and performance spaces, our bookstores, our galleries and our museum spaces, our media and our cultural resources. We might also think of our wineries and tasting rooms, our high-tech creatives and our mountain trails as cultural resources… What do you think?

6.     Finally - success!

The entirety of Nevada County’s incorporated communities – Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee – are now part of a pilot program of only fourteen districts statewide which are tasked with shaping future generations of California Cultural Districts. Of these fourteen only four are rural, and of these four Nevada County is unique in California as having achieved two designations. The California Cultural Districts Program joins twelve other State Cultural District Programs across America in what is an emerging national trend.

7.     What’s next?

Both Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District and Truckee Cultural District carry similar priorities. The first of them – the development of arts plans that sync with countywide cultural planning – is clearly indicative of a developing community.

8.     What is an arts / cultural plan?

For Nevada County, cultural planning would mean an inclusive process of engaging residents, visitors, and representatives of not only the arts community but a range of other sectors to help identify cultural needs, opportunities, and resources – and to think strategically about how to use these resources to help our community achieve its goals. Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee wish to leverage their designations to ensure a critical role in creating a vibrant, thriving economy, in defining our identity, and in building an engaged and connected population.

9.     A Nevada County Arts & Culture Economic Impact Study – what are the benefits?

To support this aim, a key part of planning will be the development of a rigorous arts and culture economic impact study for Nevada County. Credible data will support the claim that our cultural sector contributes to economic and community development and help us all leverage grants from new funders, reaffirm commitments from existing funders, and add to the meat to the bones of our arts and cultural planning.

10.  Want to get involved? We need your help! We are looking for:

a.    Technical / design skills to help us create a dynamic Cultural Asset Map

b.    Help gathering economic data

c.    Marketing assistance

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