The city of Fresno is a community that celebrates its art and culture, whether it is honoring the customs of its diverse population, relishing the sophistication of stage performances or enjoying the rich customs of its residents through festivals. Fresno understands the importance of recognizing the many cultures, faiths and interests that make it such a vibrant community. The city is home to many cultural celebrations throughout the year.
Some of the events the city celebrates diversity with include the annual Mexican Independence Day celebration, which has residents tapping their feet to lively mariachi music and enjoying plenty of authentic Mexican cuisine. The community also participates in the Hmong New Year Celebration, one of the largest cultural events for the Hmong in the United States. Over 200,000 people have attended over an eight-year span. Tradition abounds at the annual blessing of the grapes, a significant celebration in the Armenian community. The Fresno Veterans Parade, César Chávez celebration and Martin Luther King celebration pay tribute to significant national heroes. Each October sees the arrival of tens of thousands who visit Fresno to enjoy the Big Fresno Fair—complete with entertainment, horse racing, plenty of dining selections and several agriculture and cultural exhibits.
The Fresno Convention Center is the site of many popular events throughout the year, including lively entertainment such as Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, the Viva El Mariachi Festival and many other touring performers. The SaveMart Center, located on the campus of Fresno State, welcomes national celebrities in a large indoor arena with an 18,000-seat capacity. California State University’s theater also hosts numerous student-produced and multicultural-cast performances. Fresno City College’s theater is a platform for students’ work in dance, music and drama.
Fresno also showcases its diverse cultural history and ever evolving artistic talent through local museums and cultural arts centers such as the Fresno Art Museum, the African American Historical and Cultural Museum, Arte Américas, the Legion of Valor Museum, housed in the Fresno Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, the Armenian Heritage Museum and the Meux Home.
A major landmark, the aforementioned Meux Home Museum is a beautifully preserved 1888 Queen Anne Victorian home which is a time capsule of authentic turn of the century living with original woodwork, lighting, and furnishing. They are open for tours with costumed docents every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon until the last tour at 3 p.m. Those interested in visiting should call (559) 233-8007 for more information or visit their website, www.meux.mus.ca.us/.
Performing arts can be experienced practically any time of the year, visitors and residents alike will have no problem finding live theater, dance or music at multiple venues throughout town. The Tower District is home to several theaters including the historic Tower Theatre, truly the crown jewel of the area. Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater has been presenting fantastic musicals and comedies since 1978 accompanied by extraordinary dining. The Second Space Theater, an intimate black box with only 150 seats, provides entertainment by the Good Company Players. The Fresno Grand Opera Company produces opera featuring artists of international renown and world-class concerts for the residents of Fresno and California’s entire Central Valley region.
The Fresno Arts Council (FAC), the local partner to the California Arts Council, is a major driving force behind fresno’s cultural arts scene. Established in 1979, this private nonprofit organization serves as the arts agency to both the city and county of Fresno, promoting and supporting the arts community. The FAC, as art consultant for the city and county of Fresno, coordinates and provides oversight for the 1 percent designated for the public art program. Consistent with its mission, “to enrich people’s lives through the arts” the FAC sponsors events and programs that enhance arts in education, illuminates local talent and strengthens arts organizations and individual artist so that they will enhance the economic vitality of the county.
Best known for Arthop, which happens on the first and third Thursdays of each month, the FAC coordinates over 65 artists’ studios, galleries, museums and art at City Hall for a free open house that incorporates musicians, dancers and other performance artists from 5-8 p.m. With the addition of the Arthop Trolley Arthop has become a major attraction.
Without a doubt Fresno is fast becoming a destination for arts aficionados.
PHILHARMONIC VITALITY IN FRESNO With a 58-year tradition of arts leadership in the Central Valley, the Fresno Philharmonic continues its mission of presenting high quality, live orchestral music to audiences throughout the Valley with a deep commitment to education and community outreach.
Music Director Theodore Kuchar, one of the most recorded conductors in the world today, leads the Fresno Philharmonic. Under Maestro Kuchar’s leadership, the Philharmonic has honed its artistic caliber, attracting some of the leading soloists in the world and taking on some of the most difficult works in the repertoire. No longer does one need to travel to San Francisco or Los Angeles to see the likes of Itzhak Perlman, Lang Lang, Dame Evelyn Glennie or Joshua Bell – Fresno is becoming one of the cultural hubs for world-renowned musicians to stop at on their global circuits.
Education is an important part of the Fresno Philharmonic’s mission. Each year, the Philharmonic reaches thousands of students through various education programs including Concertos for Kids, Arts Access Workshops and Education Concerts. In 2012, the Fresno Philharmonic was able to offer their performances of Classical Kids Live: Beethoven Lives Upstairs free of charge to students of the Valley due to the generous support of its education partners. Additional education and community outreach for the Fresno Philharmonic includes a course offered through the Osher Life-long Learning program at California State University, Fresno, and an educational collaboration with Valley PBS A Minute with Maestro, in addition to Masterworks performances airing on KVPR FM 89 on the second Tuesday following each concert.
The Fresno Philharmonic operates on a budget of about $1.5 million with approximately half earned through ticket revenues, and the rest through individual contributions, grants and corporate sponsorships. With its growing artistic reputation and increased services to the community through exceptional performances, education and community partnerships, the Fresno Philharmonic has proven to be a sound investment in the cultural life of Fresno.
Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center is the premier performing arts and convention center site in California's Central Valley. Located in Fresno's burgeoning downtown, Selland Arena, Saroyan Theatre, Fresno Convention Center and Valdez Hall are owned by the City of Fresno and professional managed by industry leader SMG. Each year the center hosts a wide variety of popular events including concerts, cultural performances, meetings and conventions, community gatherings, banquets, sports and other special events. The center’s friendly and experienced staff is dedicated to providing the highest level of service, which means whether you're attending an event or planning one, your experience at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center will be a positive one! For a list of upcoming events visit www.fresnoconventioncenter.com