By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Arts center getting back on financial track
Second phase of mural project, jump in class enrollment highlights of 2023 for Carnegie
Carnegie arts 1
The Carnegie recently launched the second phase of the Turlock West Side Story Mural Project. This interior mural will be featured in the retrospective exhibition of paintings by artist Richard Gomez that will be on view to the public at the CAC from Feb. 13 – May 18, 2024 (Photo contributed).

Two exciting bits of news came out Carnegie Arts Center director Lisa McDermott’s annual report to the Turlock City Council on Jan. 9.

First, following a rough 2021-22 fiscal year, in which it ran a deficit of about $100,000 as it struggled to come back after the pandemic, the CAC was in the black for 2022-23.

“Compared to last year, it couldn’t have gotten any worse,” said McDermott. “We are very pleased with how we were able to come close to meeting our budget, with a very small budget deficit this year.”

Technically, the Carnegie was about $22,000 in the red, but comfortably made up the difference with a transfer of $90,000 of accrued earnings from its endowment fund.

Carnegie 2
The most recent round of youth-created themed banners for Downtown Turlock are now up. There are 20 banners around downtown Turlock with art work around the theme of “family.”

“We ended up on a strong plus side on the budget, leaving us coming into this new year with a very healthy financial position,” said McDermott.

The second bit of news that McDermott broke at the council meeting was that Carnegie is launching the second phase of the Turlock West Side Story Mural Project.

Funded with a grant from the Heartland Creative Corps, the project will produce two murals created for Turlock’s West Side neighborhood. The murals are designed and executed under the direction of mural artist and UC Merced faculty member Richard Gomez, who has worked on numerous public art projects throughout California and abroad.

As a Central Valley native, Gomez understands the needs and concerns of this region, and much of his work centers on the cultural traditions of the communities he engages through his art, addressing the need to, as Gomez states, “change rooted stereotypes and visual cliches of culture and identity of the traditionally marginalized.”

The first mural, “Chicano Downtown,” was painted on an exterior wall of the building located on the 100 block of S. First Street. The design includes references to icons of Chicano culture and reflects the history of the neighborhood. Gomez’s family owned the Mexican Kitchen restaurant that at one time occupied the building on which the mural will appear. His memories of family, neighborhood, and community have informed the mural’s design. Gomez, along with two assistants, completed work on the mural in September 2023. 

Carnegie 3
The Carnegie held its second annual block party in June 2023, welcoming families for a variety of activities (Photo contributed).

The second mural is being painted inside the Carnegie Arts Center’s main exhibition gallery. Work began Jan. 13 and should be completed by Saturday.  This interior mural will be featured in the retrospective exhibition of paintings by artist Gomez that will be on view to the public at the CAC from Feb. 13 – May 18, 2024. 

The public is invited to watch Gomez, along with students from Roselawn High School, work on the mural at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Carnegie Arts Center, 250 N. Broadway.

The CAC’s financial picture brightened this year with around 14,000 visitors entering the CAC over the past fiscal year.

There were nine art exhibitions, which drew 2,635 visitors; 31 different schools participated in 89 field trips to the art gallery, which attracted 2,128 students; the CAC offered 36 different classes with 265 participants enrolled; and the Carnegie hosted 62 rental events which drew 5,500 guests.

“Our numbers have been steady, though the big deal this past year was a great jump in class enrollments,” said McDermott. “We increased our class enrollments almost 50 percent from the previous year and most of that is in our youth classes. But we did have some real success with adult classes this year. And facility rentals of the building are not just back to pre-pandemic levels, they’re continuing to increase.”

Another highlight was the expansion of the ceramics program.

“Our assistant director,  Megan Hennes, has been focused on recruiting new teachers and offering a wider variety of classes for all ages,” said McDermott. “The biggest boost this year came from a generous grant from Off Center Thrift and Gift, our friends there. Their funding allowed us to purchase and install a kiln for ceramics and begin to outfit one of our arts studios, which is now pretty much exclusively turned over to our ceramic program. An additional donation that came from a private anonymous donor bought us eight pottery wheels. So now … we have the kiln, we can fire, we can glaze, we can work on the wheel.”

Other highlights during the previous fiscal year included a banner contest for the downtown light poles, with a California theme, sponsored by Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association; the Art of Design Home and Garden Tour in May; and the CAC’s second annual block party in June; and exhibition of California-themed quilts in the fall of 2022.