By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Gourds transformed into colorful works of art now fill the Calaveras County Arts Council Gallery on Main Street in San Andreas.
But as soon as the gourd show is over, the gallery will close.
Council directors voted unanimously last night for the cost-cutting measure, effective Sept. 30.
The gallery has presented the works of local artists since 1995.
"It is a time consideration," said newly elected board President George Dondero. "It takes staff so much time to set up the shows, sell the work, greet the gallery visitors, take down the shows and we need staff to focus on raising funds."
Treasurer JoAnn Stump said the gallery brought in $900 for the Council last year.
Facing a year with no funding from the state, the board approved a budget more than $60,000 smaller than last year's.
This year's $112,541 budget has no grants from the California Arts Council or any of its special funding programs.
Last year's $172,734 budget included California Arts Council Grants of $27,000, Arts in Education and other state funding of $14,850 and other grant income of about $18,000, said Arts Council Executive Director Penny West.
Because of the reduced funding, the Council won't hold student art shows, give out art scholarships or run art bus tours.
However, Dondero said the council is not cutting as much as it is "refocusing."
Although West and her part-time assistant Laurie Lehmann will not be hanging shows in the gallery, their time will be better spent writing grant proposals and working on other fund-raising activities, he said.
And, West said, most of the council's programs will continue, including the popular Music in the Parks summer program, the Ovations concert series, Arts in Education and the Cajun Fete.
West told the board that with this year's state funding cuts, half the arts councils in California are expected to close their doors.
"It's going to be a miracle to see who can hang on," she said, adding that Calaveras County Arts Council had a good year last year, making this year's programs more secure.