Arts office, gallery closing doors

archive_import /


The state budget crisis has forced a new victim into homelessness the Central Sierra Arts Council.

Citing a lack of reliable funding for the coming fiscal year, the council's Board of Directors decided yesterday to abandon the gallery and office space it has occupied since 1995 at 208 S. Green St. in downtown Sonora.

Two staff members program Manager Zoe Christopher and education Director Twyla Olsen will lose their jobs, while Deanna Dechaine, executive director since Jan. 15, will remain on the payroll at a new, smaller location as yet to be determined.

The actions become effective June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The board voted May 5 to close the gallery and eliminate the two positions, but delayed taking final action until members of the public could voice their opinions.

More than 50 people turned out last night.

Many mourned the loss of the gallery, which has bolstered careers of area artists and brought shows of international caliber to Sonora. But more were concerned over Christopher and Olsen who, they said, have been instrumental in maintaining the Arts Council's high standards of presenting art in the community and schools.

John Lytle, board president, said directors had suggested reducing their hours but neither said they could afford to accept.

The council must keep Dechaine on the payroll as full-time executive director to secure any chance of future funding from the California Arts Council, he said.

"We are saddened and dismayed that we cannot afford to keep program staff, both because the individuals have so much knowledge and experience, and because the one remaining staff member will be stretched so thin," Lytle said. "However, we still recognize our need for an executive director with a long track record of fund-raising and fiscal planning."

Under the new plan, Dechaine will devote about half her time to administering the Arts Reach to Schools program, which sends artists into county classrooms and is one of the council's most popular programs. The remainder of her time will focus on raising money.

"This does not mean the closing of the Arts Council," Lytle said. "We are being forced to relocate in the face of the economic situation we find ourselves in."

The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Saturday April 30, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
New $65M courthouse to open by end of 2019


State officials are working with architectural consultants on final designs for a ... more

Lake is full, marina is open


The temperature was in the high 20s Tuesday morning when Jacob Hartley, ... more

Increased pulse flows for fish begin on Stanislaus River


Agencies that control flows on the Stanislaus River below Tulloch and New ... more

Rim Fire recovery plan released


Federal custodians of the Stanislaus National Forest are publishing a plan today ... more

Director resigns as infighting continues


Bryan Adcox has resigned from the Mother Lode Fair Board of Directors ... more