Arts DEVO: Deploy the creative corps!

Arts funding for Butte County; plus, Chico Performances' new season ... and pinatas!

Chinook salmon by Zeke Lunder and Jeb Sisk. (Photo by Photo by Ernesto Bonetti)
Jason Cassidy

It is very unusual for Butte County to get a huge influx of cash to spend on just the arts and culture of this community. So, when Arts DEVO received a press release announcing that nearly a third of a million bucks had been awarded for just this purpose, he had to re-read: “$326,850.00 will flow to Butte County in fiscal year 2023-2024, all [of] which will be used to create a healthier community, raise environmental awareness, promote civic engagement and social justice through the arts.”

Wow! That unbelievable news came from local-man-of-ridiculous-amount-of-hats Ray Laager, director of the Upstate Community Enhancement Foundation (and advertising consultant for the CN&R; and underwriting director for KZFR 90.FM; and self-proclaimed Deadhead who hosts the “Playing Dead” show at the station—Fridays, 1-3 p.m.).

The money was part of the big $60 million dollar pot of California Arts Council dough given out for the California Creative Corps program to boost arts in the state by funding works and projects with one (or more) of four areas of focus: public health/COVID-19; water/climate/environment; civic engagement; and social justice/community engagement.

Laager and the foundation collaborated with the Nevada County Arts Council—which was charged with implementing the program in the 19-county “upstate” region—to spread the word and educate local artists, organizations and culture bearers. The fruit of those labors was a total of $3.38 million in funding for the region. The eight Butte-specific grantees were chosen from 57 applicants, and include projects that range from a mobile creative reuse center featuring “upcycled materials, interactive activities and opportunities for art and makers resource exchange,” to a sculpture collaboration between Zeke Lunder and Jeb Sisk, who will once again forge wild Chinook salmon from wrought iron salvaged from the former Honey Run Covered Bridge (the pair previously created one salmon which was auctioned off for $15,000 to benefit the rebuilding effort).

Our region’s portion of the state project is the Upstate Creative Corps, and you can read more about all of the grantees at its website:

New season; first look

Chico Performances has just dropped the schedule for the 2023-2024 season, and as expected, the university will once again connect Laxson Auditorium to the greater world with a wide range of cultural offerings throughout the school year. After a quick survey, my early picks are: Margaret Cho (Sept. 17); An Evening with David Sedaris (Nov. 5); and the bolero stylings of Tres Souls (March 1).

David Sedaris comex to Chico Nov. 5.

To see the whole schedule and purchase ticket subscriptions (starting Aug. 14) or single tickets (starting Aug. 21), visit


Next to “Fireworks, Candy and Puppy Dog Store,” is there anything that sounds as fun (or is as fun to say) as “Pints and Piñatas”? Find out if it the event’s name lives up to its promise at The Allies Pub on Aug. 13, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., when local artist Eunice Lopez, of Whole Lotta Piñatas (also ridiculously fun to say), hosts a piñata-making workshop. Sign up on the Allies site (; the $50 fee includes all materials, and one complimentary pint!

Whole Lotta Piñatas’ Eunice Lopez.

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