Grass Valley Center For The Arts

Our History

The Center for the Arts has been an active member for the Grass Valley Community since the then Northern California Center for the Arts was leased in 1998.

The Facility:

  • 1947-1984 – was home to Hartman Chevrolet, Hartman Toyota, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile, Hansen’s Subaru and a Yamaha dealership.
  • Late 80’s – Jerry Lee purchased the building and created the Metropolitan Beauty School.
  • Mid 90‘s – was home to Gold Cities Gymnastics and Dance center and then a brief stint as a video production facility.
  • 1998 – Northern California Center for the Arts leased the building from Jerry Lee.
  • 2001 – Building was purchased by Jon Blinder with funding from Gold Country Lenders.
  • 2002 – Building was repaired and remodeled installing new bathrooms, the Off Center Stage, and the upstairs dance studio occupied by Sierra Dance Institute. Electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning were all upgraded.
  • 2003 – Building was donated by Jon Blinder to the Center for the Arts.
  • 2004 – Front and Center campaign began in order to raise the funds for the new facade, storefront and entry.
  • 2005 – The California Downtown Association presented Grass Valley with the Golden Eagle award for Adaptive Reuse of the building and it’s new design.
  • 2009 – Received the first of its kind grant from the City of Grass Valley, $250,000 in Redevelopment Agency funds for capital improvements on the Facility.

 The Organization:

  • Late 1990’s – Pat and Mari Tierney (father and daughter) and Mari’s friend Uwe leased the building with a vision of creating an art center. Dave Iorns (founding President), Russ Kneeland, Bill Snell, Marci Wolfe, George Jayne and Anita Wald-Tuttle were the founding board members. Russ Kneeland acted as Artistic Director.
  • Late 1999 – Jon Blinder became President and remained in that position for the next 8 years.
  • August 31, 2001 – The Center for the Arts received its 501 (c) 3 status under the corporate name of Northern California Center for the Arts. With control of the building and the organizations future the board began to expand.
  • 2002 – Peter Wilson and Paul Emery became the first paid management staff, business manager and Executive Director respectively.
    The Board grew bringing in long term members such as Leo Granucci, Richard Baker, Peggy Levine and John Bush.
  • 2004 – John Bush was hired as Executive Director with Paul Emery serving as Artistic Director.
  • 2005 – Krista Thomas was hired as Executive Director (the first to hold this position full time). In 2005 The Center’s budget had approached $500,000 and in 2006 grew to over $800,000.
  • 2008 – Richard Baker becomes President of the Board.
  • 2008 – Pam Comstock was hired as Executive Director
  • 2009 – Present Julie Baker has served as Executive Director growing the budget to over $1 million in 2011.

The Programs (highlights through the years):

  • 1998 – The Center was the site of the first-ever pay-per-view cyber concert on the Internet featuring Supertramp lead singer Rodger Hodgson. The first portion of the Main Stage was built. (This was expanded 2 times to its current configuration).
  • Late 90’s-early 2001 – The Center began producing musical showcases of touring singer-songwriters in the Van Gogh Room (now the Granucci Room). The concept was to create an Americana Showcase.
  • 2001 – The music program was moved to the Main Stage. Sierra Dance Institute, PAG and many other community arts groups began to use the theater to house their programs.
  • 2003 – The first Center sponsored production of the Starz Show was performed.
  • 2004 – First Center produced play on the Main Stage- Marat Sade.
  • 2004 – present-The Center began to perform the role of a presenting organization, essentially doing the business of the arts, which allowed performers to rely on the staff of the Center for many of the key aspects of production.
  • 2005 – First Center produced musical- The Fantastiks.
  • 2006 – First Academy of the Creative Arts (summer school in the visual arts for children 8-11), first year of the 13 Band (rock and roll band for middle-school students) and the first Center produced acting classes.
  • 2007 – Expanded classes to include the visual arts and first teen musical theater project, The Gift of Winter.
  • 2010 – First Center produced off site concert-The Smothers Brothers.

Awards & Grants

  • 2004 – California Downtown Association Honoring Achievement in Physical Improvement
  • 2008 – Certificate of Recognition for Exceptional Design, Grass Valley
  • 2008/2009 – Redevelopment Grant from the City of Grass Valley
  • 2010 – Finalist for the Sacramento Arts & Business Council Prelude to the Season
    Excellence in Arts Management for organization with budget over $250,000
  • 2010 – City of Grass Valley Mayor’s Non-Profit Award
  • 2010 – Voted Union Readers Best Theater
  • 2013 – Voted Union Readers Best Theater