Tuolumne County Profile - Community Indicators Project 2008
Tuolumne County Profile Introduction Health and Safety Education and the Arts Natural Resources and Recreation Economy and Infrastructure Appendices Conclusion Acknowledgements

ARTS & HERITAGE INTRODUCTION

Why is this important?

A community’s heritage is as unique as a fingerprint, and indicates the values and foresight of its citizens. Tuolumne County’s place in history began with the Gold Rush of 1848, but its first residents were Native Americans whose heritage here is at least 8,000 years old. Logging, transportation, hydroelectric projects, recreation and tourism became important parts of the economy following a second Gold Rush in 1890.

Many residents live in historic towns. Others depend on heritage tourism for their livelihood. The arts are part of our heritage and continue to be appreciated by residents and visitors who enjoy the creative side of life in stage productions, musical events, visual media and heritage-based festivals. For generations, photographers, artists, poets, storytellers, thespians and others have been inspired by our natural heritage of lava tablelands, rolling oak foothills and the forests and wilderness of the Sierra Nevada.

What is the measure?

Support for the arts is chronicled in attendance records of theater companies, the numbers of galleries that exhibit and sell to the public, studio art tours and in performing and visual arts events held in many venues throughout the year. A large number of fairs and festivals, often heritage-related, appeal to many residents and visitors.

To quantify the value of our heritage is challenging. We can get a sense of the community’s dedication to our heritage in several ways: conducting cultural resource surveys, listing buildings on historic registers, implementing design review, regulating demolition of older buildings and the use of the Mills Act Property Tax Abatement Program for property tax reduction rewarding good stewardship. We also count the numbers of people who visit museums.

How are we doing?

The performing as well as visual arts organizations raise funds and increase their audiences. The area’s nonprofit arts and heritage organizations frequently apply for and receive grants from national, state and local foundations to support their work.

Scene from the play "Cats"

Efforts to protect our county’s unique heritage measurably improved over the past few years. Local use planning incorporates historic preservation goals designed to encourage the continued presence of our landmarks and our rural setting. The first steps toward the creation of a heritage park in Big Oak Flat have been taken. Additionally, several commissions and citizens provide support for preserving our links to the past.

The museums are supported by their fund-raising efforts and memberships. One museum receives partial funding from Tuolumne County. At present, none of them charges admission.

Music festivals from Bach to Blues enrich our communities. Artists, performers, writers, craftspeople, volunteers, heritage advocates and visitors preserve our rich and diverse heritage.

Community Indicators Project
Tuolumne County - Central Sierra Mountains