In the midst of rich farmland and small town life, many people may not think that performance arts hold a great importance to an agriculture-based community. Many individuals think this rings true for the Yuba-Sutter area. On the contrary, the existence of fine and performance arts programs are highly appreciated by community members. An array of arts programs is supported by community organizations such as the Yuba-Sutter Arts Council. The Council holds regular art shows and arts based events. A large portion of Y-S area’s arts support comes from Yuba College. In 1997 Yuba College brought area residents The Cultural Events Series. The series has allowed local area residents to enjoy the talent of well-known artists and performers from around the world. Just this past year Anoushka Shankar, daughter of well-know composer and performer Ravi Shankar, graced the Yuba College Theater with a performance. Her trance-like music gave the audience a feel for the Eastern world and exposed many to something they might not have had the chance to experience without the series. However, the series currently lies in limbo. Announced in late November 2001, the Yuba College Board of Trustees has issued a temporary suspension of the series from the 2002-2003 academic year. Due to the lack of adequate funding and resources, members of the series committee felt that it was the best option. Yuba College president, Stephen Epler, who retires in January 2002, said, “It’s certainly no reflection on the quality or success of the program.” According to Epler it was always known that the series fell $10,000 short of funding the start of each season. Epler estimated that acquiring quality talent led up to a figure of approximately $30,000 per seasons, and publicity of the event brings the amount up to $40,000 to $45,000. Epler claimed that there not enough money to “fill the gap.” He feels that it was a very successful program and that it will be up to the new president to decide the priority the series in terms of college funding. The series was a project initiated by Jay Drury, the Dean of Fine and Language Arts. “Jay [Drury] was really the brainchild behind this,” Epler said. Drury initially made a pitch to start the Cultural Events Series to the Yuba College Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation authorized to accept donations or gifts for the benefit of the Yuba Community College District students. The Foundation donated $57,000 to get the series started. In its first year, 1999-2000, $6,751 in donations were rallied in support of the series. In the second year, the amount of donations totaled $2,650, nearly 40 percent lower than the 99-00 season donations. How did this happen? This question falls to Phil Krebs– Foundation, Grants and Development Director. Krebs attributed the lack of donations to the priority the series and other projects hold. He addressed it as a “gesture in proportion to the number of projects” being sponsored by the school. Last semester a total of 36 projects were in the works, including the series. Many of those projects have also been suspended. One of those projects is the Capitol Campaign, a major source of funding for the series. These measures were suspended at the suggestion of a financial consulting group Yuba College has been working with. Monica Hart, a representative of that group, looked to local area businesses for financial support. The goal of this venture was to obtain donated funding from businesses that Yuba College provides career training for. Letters were sent to CEO’s of major companies to obtain possible sponsorship. Epler donated $1000 a year to “set an example” in support of the series. A memorandum sent to the Language Arts/Fine Arts faculty and staff from Drury, announced that fundraising efforts “never materialized.” Krebs claimed that fundraising efforts were initiated and referred to the initial $57,000 donated by the Foundation. Krebs also gave the example of the option given to Yuba College staff members to provide donations through a payroll deduction. He concluded that numerous small deductions were made, but not enough to provide substantial support.However, Epler said that no fundraising drives were ever initiated once the series began.
When questioned about the lack of financial support, excuses of limitation of time and priority are given. Epler commented that the series did not hold a high priority in comparison to other programs. Krebs gave the reason of being “spread thin” because he has responsibilities on all six Yuba College campuses, not just the central Marysville campus. “It would take a good effort to fully fund this project every year,” Krebs said. In the same memorandum sent by Drury, he referred to this lack of support as “the low self-esteem the district holds for the humanities in general.” As for the future of the series, this question still remains unanswered. With a new college president coming into term, there is hope that a greater source of support will be found for the series and other programs like it. Krebs claimed that it’s “hard to say” what the board and president will want to emphasize in terms of fundraising. He also said that the new president will be “made very aware of the importance of the series to the college and community.”