Calaveras County hosts state arts council meeting

The California Arts Council meets at Calaveras High School on Tuesday.

The California Arts Council held a meeting at the Calaveras Performing Arts Center on the Calaveras High School campus in San Andreas on Tuesday.

The council is an agency of the state of California, “dedicated to advancing California through the arts and creativity,” according to its website.

The organization provides grant funding for nonprofit organizations and units of government across the state of California.

This fiscal year, the council plans on awarding $24.5 million through more than 1,300 grants.

The total investment is an increase of $8.1 million from the previous year, and the organization’s second largest investment ever in statewide arts programming.

The meeting included reports, presentations, public comments and voting on the approval of grant programs.

Kathy Mazzafero, executive director of the Calaveras County Arts Council, gave the final presentation at the meeting.

She spoke on the history of the county, as well as the funding problems facing arts programs in the area.

Her voice trembled as she thanked the state council for a previous grant, which allowed funding for a Poetry Out Loud competition.

“I can’t tell you how much it meant to all of us that you could come and find out about the arts in rural California, and thank you for our grant,” Mazzaferro said.

Every member of the audience stood and applauded.

In an interview following the meeting, Donn K. Harris, the longest-serving member of the council, spoke about the arts in rural communities.

“This is the first time that the council has met in Calaveras County,” Harris said. “We heard about the great activities in the arts that have been happening here.”

The council has been holding meetings in small communities more frequently in recent years. “We’re doing more of that,” Harris said. “Rural communities show great appreciation for it; we’re doing it about two times a year.”

Harris had good things to say about artists in small towns. “There’s more individuality,” he said. “It’s not ‘cookie-cutter.’ People really show who they are out here.”

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Reporter

Noah Berner has lived in Calaveras County most of his life, and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in history.

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