Not only is Tuolumne County known as an area with exceptional natural beauty and resources, but it also holds the distinguished title of a well-known “arts destination.” We provide year-round theater, music, art galleries and cultural events. Many nationally and internationally recognized artists in visual and performing arts consider this area home. Tuolumne County’s art scene contributes greatly to the economic prosperity of our communities, attracting visitors from far and wide.
The Sierra Repertory Theater offers more than 25 plays or musicals each year with more than 500 performances. Several music promoters present concert series, annual festivals and seasonal events. Fine art galleries and shops in most every town represent local painters, sculptors and artisans, while the local college, the arts council and professional arts associations offer classes and workshops for young and old alike.
Many of our communities offer a series of free, open-air music events at community parks and other venues. You can bring your picnic dinner, blanket and low-backed chair and enjoy great music under the stars.
During the spring and fall, the Strawberry Music Festival brings folks from around the world to hear folk and country music at beautiful Camp Mather near Yosemite. In October, Sonora hosts the Bach Festival for a week of intimate concerts and solo performances, some held in local homes. In the winter, the St. James Concert Series and the Winter Gold Concert Series bring orchestral and vocal performances to Sonora, and Columbia College hosts the Columbia College Jazz Series. We also have the Symphony of the Sierra, the Mother Lode Brass and Reed Band and the Community Choir to add to the rich variety of musical offerings throughout the year.
Columbia College also has much to offer, with dance and musical reviews and an independent and foreign film series.
The Sonora Opera Hall hosts many special events and the Mother Lode Fairgrounds regularly provide cultural and entertainment opportunities, such as the annual Christmas Fair and Craft Show, Mother Lode Fair and Rodeo and dances and auctions for nonprofit fundraisers.
And if that’s not enough, the U.S. Forest Service also presents concerts, dramatic performances and interpretive programs at their campgrounds and park venues. Some of our local communities sponsor a farmers’ market featuring fresh, locally grown produce, fresh baked bread and homemade condiments. Local crafts are also featured.
Communities, such as Twain Harte and Tuolumne, offer free, outdoor concerts. Twain Harte and Pinecrest Lake both offer “Movies Under the Stars” featuring films the whole family can enjoy.
The Central Sierra Arts Council is the hub of the county for connecting artists and audiences. Children and art are also included in their agenda, with their annual children’s art show held in March and their “Arts Reach to Schools” program. In April, the Council holds an “open entry” fine art show. May brings the Sonora Art Trails, which is an open studio tour of local artists. October brings a ceramic show/sale, and in November, a panel-judged photography show. The council also offers a series of professional workshops and demonstrations throughout the year, and many of our local artists and musicians are available for private instruction. You can also make a visit to the George Post Gallery in downtown Sonora, which features exhibitions by local artists and artisans.
Tuolumne County also boasts a number of dance, yoga and martial arts studios and classes offered by local craft guilds and art associations. A variety of local shops provide tools and supplies for the artist in everyone. Come to Tuolumne County and get creative!
For arts information in Tuolumne County, contact the Arts Council at (209) 532-2787 or visit their website at www.centralsierraarts.org.
Sierra Repertory Theater Sierra Repertory Theater (SRT) is the largest professional theater company in Tuolumne County, with two very distinct venues: its original location in East Sonora, a contemporary 202-seat theater located on Highway 108 that has been operating since 1980, and the 274-seat historic Fallon House, located within the Columbia State Historical Park in Columbia. This 274-seat Victorian theater was built in the 1880s and was refurbished by the State of California in 1970. Both venues provide year-round seasons of award-winning musicals, comedies and dramas. SRT features Actors Equity performers and professional set designs in first-rate productions. SRT has the reputation of being the number one rural theater in the region and quite possibly in the country! For information and reservations, call SRT at (209) 532-3120 or visit their website at www.sierrarep.org.
Stage 3 Theater For a more intimate theater experience, visit Stage 3 Theater in downtown Sonora. This company is dedicated to the production of new works and contemporary playwrights. They offer five premier productions each year, and they also host an annual “Festival of New Plays” with dramatic readings in October that are open to the public. Critics in Modesto and Stockton have written, “an unusually high standard of innovative, worthwhile and entertaining theater…..Stage 3 is the best thing to happen in this region in many years.” Make sure you’re not left out of this experience! For information and reservations, call Stage 3 at (209) 536-1778.
Duende Drama & Literature, Inc. is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to bring plays and stories to our communities. This professional traveling theater company has toured to schools, parks, museums, theaters and libraries throughout California. Duende specializes in plays on California history as well as the history of science. Co-founder/playwright Rick Foster’s well-crafted historical dramas are enjoyed by adults and children alike. For information contact co-founder/artistic director Thomas F. Maguire at (209) 532-9177 or go to www.DuendeDrama.org.