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Calaveras County Arts Council To Close Gallery

The Calaveras County Arts Council Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to close its gallery in San Andreas.

As soon as the current show – A Gallery of Gourds – closes on Sept. 30, the gallery will close its doors, said Penny West, the council´s executive director. “It´s sad,” West said. But she insisted the Arts Council isn´t really going away.

West and the council´s executive assistant, Laurie Lehmann, won´t see their hours trimmed. Rather, the council´s directors asked the pair to concentrate on locating new sources of funding.

Last year´s council budget was $172,700, West said. This year the council will operate under a $112,500 budget, reflecting an almost complete elimination of funding from the state. “This year is a regroup and refocus year,” West said.

She is happy that two very popular concert series will remain intact, but noted the ticket prices will increase for the Ovations series which begins Nov. 16. The other series n Music in the Parks n basically pays for itself through donations collected at the concerts and from sponsorships from businesses.

West is also pleased that the Arts in Education program will continue to provide Calaveras County schoolteachers the opportunity to select artists to make presentations to their classes.

But the ArtsTeach and the Power of Poetry programs will be canceled. “Those are the kinds of programs that are gone for good,” West said. “That´s really sad.”

The Arts Council newsletter will continue to be distributed annually and the calaverascountyarts.org Web presence will be maintained. “Artists can let us know and we can link to their sites,” said West.

Cate Culver, an established Mountain Ranch painter, said lesser-known artists would miss the San Andreas gallery. “I think for newer artists it´s been a good venue,” Culver said Thursday. Penny and Laurie always do such a good job helping artists put on a show.”

San Andreas watercolorist, Randy Klassen echoed Culvert´s remarks. “It´s a disappointment,” he said. “The people distributing the money think art is superfluous. But beauty brings calm and joy to people and it´s important to life.”

West said the gallery space might still be used for classes, but that won´t be decided for a couple of months. Her office will remain at the Main Street location.

Also on Tuesday, the Arts Council elected a new board of directors. George Dondero is president; Madeline Krska is vice president; JoEllen Gano is secretary; JoAnn Stump is treasurer and Evan Garamendi is the member at large. Ed Cline, Marta Johnson, Sharon Daniels, Sharon Armstrong, David Gano and Paul Jensen serve as directors.

To make a donation to the Arts Council, or to volunteer time, call 754-1774.

Calalveras Enterprise story by Mike Taylor. For more Calaveras news, click: calaverasenterprise.com