New Art Center to Open in Downtown Modesto

New Art Center to open in downtown Modesto thanks to a grant from ArtPlace and the //Building Imagination Initiative, CSU Stanislaus, and the Modesto Art Museum.


“Building Imagination Gallery and Cinema” to Bring Video Arts and New Vibrancy to Downtown Modesto, Thanks to ArtPlace Grant ArtPlace releases 47 grants supporting creative placemaking initiatives in 33 communities nationwide (Modesto, CA, June 12, 2012) A vacant storefront in downtown Modesto will soon be transformed into a center for video arts, thanks to a significant grant from ArtPlace announced today.

The Building Imagination Gallery and Cinema (BIG Cinema) is the brainchild of Professor Jessica Gomula-Kruzic of California State University, Stanislaus, and will be in partnership with the university. The center, to be located across from the Gallo Center for the Arts, will focus on the creation of new and original documentary films about the local community, and involving them in the production. Training in video editing and production will keep the center going at all hours, and indoor and outdoor video screenings will attract new attention – and new crowds – to the half-vacant 10th Street.

ArtPlace is a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. To date, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts. “Across the country, cities and towns are using the arts to help shape their social, physical, and economic characters,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “The arts are a part of everyday life, and I am thrilled to see yet another example of an arts organization working with city, state, and federal offices to help strengthen and revitalize their communities through the arts. It is wonderful that ArtPlace and its funders have recognized this work and invested in it so generously.”

A recent article in the Modesto Bee announced that the future of Modesto’s downtown is looking up, with new loft developments planned for the El Viejo post office on I Street. BIG Cinema uses the arts as a catalyst for attracting more people downtown, and could increase the likelihood that new developments such as this will find success. “I am hoping this project will create an empowering cycle,” Prof. Gomula-Kruzic said, “with video artists bringing publicity to community groups and an opportunity for those community members to learn marketable videography skills, an understanding of contemporary art, and an awareness of other community groups. The center will be ideally situated downtown alongside several other art venues.”

ArtPlace received almost 2200 letters of inquiry from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available for grants in this cycle. Inquiries came from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands. The 47 projects selected each take a unique and locally focused approach to creative placemaking, from the creation of a Jazz and Heritage Center in New Orleans’ historic Tremé neighborhood to generate vibrancy and economic growth for the local community to ARTSIPELAGO, a comprehensive revitalization strategy that combines a number of unconnected arts and cultural initiatives in Eastport, Maine for greater effect. “These projects all exemplify the best in creative placemaking,” explained ArtPlace’s Carol Coletta. “They demonstrate a deep understanding of how smart investments in art, design and culture as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people.”

In September, ArtPlace will release a new set of metrics to measure changes over time in the people, activity and real estate value in the communities where ArtPlace has invested with its grants. Participating foundations include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation, The William Penn Foundation and an anonymous donor. In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. ArtPlace is also supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley. A complete list of this year’s ArtPlace awards can be found at