The Arts Council 
of Big Bear Valley 

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Mission & History
2009 Like the arts themselves, the Arts Council has evolved during its 20-year history. The group was originally organized in 1988 as the Friends of the Performing Arts Center, to raise funds for the newly completed – you guessed it – Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center. In 1995, the group renamed itself Friends of the Arts to reflect its expanded mission of supporting all the arts, and in 1998, the "Friends" became the Arts Council of Big Bear Valley.

Over the years, the Arts Council has donated over $20,000 to the PAC to upgrade sound and lighting equipment, and has established art programs in the middle and elementary schools.  We also embarked on a year-long program called "The Magic of Music", in which we had donated instruments refurbished and gave them to local schools.  In addition, we purchased nearly $10,000 in new instruments for the High School music program.

Introducing students to live theater has always been a favorite project of ours. We’ve done this by hiring performers to do in-school programs, and by bringing students to the PAC to enjoy educational entertainment we've booked there.

The Big Bear Valley is fortunate to have some music and art in our schools, since many Districts have eliminated the arts completely.  The Council works to augment existing resources and produce special programs for children, such as the "Young Artists' Gallery" at Art on the Lake each year. We also underwrite the guitar program at Chautauqua High School – the first music classes in their nine-year history. 

Although it certainly is the most important work we do, our efforts have not been solely directed at students. We have also brought culturally enriching programs to the Valley at large, namely the "Universal Ballet" from Seoul, Korea and the Vienna Boys' Choir. 

The occasional grant we obtain helps immensely, but we are largely dependent on our members’ support to accomplish what we do. To become a member, please visit our Support the Arts! page.


SOLD OUT March 15, 2009 4pm: 
Music at the Mansion featuring Diane Sloan Kubeja, Ty Warren, Steve Cassling, Caitlin Barney, Jordan Mantey and Elena Peavy. This event is an Arts Council fundraiser. $20 show only/$40 show + dinner prepared by Chef Thomas (Knickerbocker Mansion, 869 Knickerbocker Road).

The Executive Director of the Arts Council, Gail McCarthy, was invited to participate in a focus group discussing the James Irvine Foundation’s newest project, “Survey on Leadership in California Arts Organizations.” The focus group was held September 25, 2008 at the Riverside Arts Council offices.

The James Irvine Foundation launched the survey to further understand the opportunities and challenges for leaders of California-based arts organizations.  The Foundation’s goal is to reach arts administrators to investigate the trends and challenges facing California’s arts sector and identify the development of the next generation of arts managers to ensure the continued health and vitality of the field moving forward.  The consulting firm of Dewey Schott of Next Step Consulting was engaged to facilitate the discussions and further investigate the leadership challenges facing administrators in California arts organizations.

The Arts Council of Big Bear Valley represents a specific type of arts organization, considered a “rural” Arts Council by reason of our distance from other larger organizations that would normally be approached to combine efforts and partner with for special projects and programs. Our efforts are recognized as more challenging for this reason.  In addition, grant giving foundations traditionally look more favorably on those groups that can substantiate a larger number of people or students reached by their specific project as opposed to the number that can be reached in a more isolated area.  Smaller organizations such as the Arts Council of Big Bear Valley rely heavily on memberships to help fund the arts.  McCarthy’s participation gave insight into the challenges faced by smaller organizations in their effort to provide arts-related education in the schools and bring culturally enriching programs to their communities.   

On 10.12.08, the Arts Council cosponsored Theatre of the Mind at the Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center.

9.16.08 Redlands Symphony Orchestra at the PAC Big Bear Valley News

Fun With Opera
On May 20, 2008, the ACBBV brought Fun With Opera  to the Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center, where professional actors will stage condensed versions of operas for all local K-6 students!

Great Turn-out for Gallery Student Exhibit!
The Arts Council of Big Bear Valley is pleased to announce a new tradition fostering the talents of local youth. Inspired by the serious artwork being produced by older students within our school district, they have established a special student exhibit at The Gallery (40750 Village Drive).

Teacher and art enthusiast, Julia Seaman, kicked off the tradition during spring break with the installation of a Big Bear Middle School Art display. Council member Phil Hamilton stated, “Mrs. Seaman is to be complimented for the wonderful work she does with students and the very creative assignments she brings to classes"

Hamilton added, "This is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing display of student art work in the Gallery. We hope parents and interested community members will stop by and enjoy the student work.”

The Gallery also has two spots for adult artists living in the Big Bear Valley. For information on the jury process, call Gail McCarthy at (909) 585-5916.  

Storyfest debuts at Big Bear Discovery Center
This Memorial Day Weekend (May 24 & 25, 2008) ushers in a new event on the mountain: Big Bear's Wild West Storyfest at the Discovery Center. The Wild West Storyfest will be a celebration of western literature and art. Storytellers, Dennis Gaines and Yvonne Hollenbeck will perform in the Amphitheater at the Discovery Center. There will be activities just for children throughout the day and a catered dinner and an evening Storytelling Concert in the Pines.

Two western books will be featured. For kids, there is Riding Freedom, the story of Charlotte Parkhurst, an orphan who spent her life masquerading as a man and was the first woman to vote in California. Adults will enjoy Broken Trail, an historical novel made into an AMC movie starring Robert Duvall.

The authors will be present to tell us about the book and how they came to writing it. Publishing Companies will also be present with many more western themed books.

The Storyfest Committee is joining forces with the Big Bear Arts Council to have a juried fine arts show at the Discovery Center. The show will feature acrylics, watercolors, sculptures and jewelry.  Artist applications are due April 15. Download an application here.

For more information, visit

The Arts Council Sets Sail December 7
The Arts Council hosts a holiday fundraiser aboard Pine Knot Marina's Miss Liberty on Friday, December 7. The enclosed, heated boat will tour the lake as guests enjoy refreshments and live music! For more information, call (909) 585-5916.

Arts Council Presents Flute/Harp Duo September 15, 2007
The Arts Council of Big Bear Valley is presenting the season’s last concert of the Encore Series, where classical music performances in private homes are followed by artist receptions with champagne and hors d’oeuvres.  The September 15 concert celebrates the sounds of flute and harp.    

Flutist Mary Palchak enjoys an active career as a freelance flutist in Southern California. She has played with the Pacific, Long Beach and Pasadena Symphonies, Long Beach Opera and numerous touring ballet companies, including Bolshoi, La Scalla and American Ballet Theater. As Founding Artistic Director, President and Principal Flutist of the California Concert Artists, now Orange County's most active professional chamber music series, she has organized and performed numerous concerts with Southern California 's finest musicians in addition to premiering compositions written specifically for the ensemble. Her solo CD, Flute Music by French Composers won critical acclaim in Fanfare Magazine and is a best-selling classical flute CD worldwide. Palchak earned her Master's Degree from the St. Louis Conservatory. 

Brian Noel, harpist, holds the Bachelor of Music degree from Cal State Long Beach and the Master of Arts in Music degree from Columbia University. He is currently principal harp with the Rio Hondo Symphony in Whitter, and is the former harpist with the U.S. Military Academy ( West Point) Concert Band. He has also performed as harpist in numerous musical theater productions. In concert, he has appeared with the California Concert Artists and the Orange County Women’s Chorus in their acclaimed 2005 performance of Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols.” Mr. Noel lives in Long Beach and has an active performance schedule – from orchestral and chamber work to weddings and special occasions.  

Jack and Ellyn Williams will host this public events at 41849 Marina Court in Big Bear Lake. The music begins at 4pm on Saturday, September 15, and the ticket price of $25 ($15 students) may be made at the door. For reservations and directions, call 585-5916 or 838-8122. 

The Encore Series was established to bring renowned classical artists to the Big Bear Valley. The first concert of the 2007 series featured the Desert Wind Trio, a flute-bassoon-clarinet ensemble that performed works by D'Rivera, Beethoven and Mozart at the home of Jack and Ellyn Williams. A concert with Russian-born pianist Mikhail Korzhev followed in June at the John and Barbara King residence.   

Arts Council Presents World-Class Pianist June 30, 2007
The Arts Council of Big Bear Valley is presenting another classical concert as part of the Encore Series - -a series where performances in private homes are followed by artist receptions with champagne and hors d’oeuvres.  The Saturday afternoon concert will star the Russian-born Mikhail Korzhev playing the music of Beethoven, Schubert and Krenek at the Castle Glen home of John and Barbara King.  

Mikhail Korzhev began performing extensively both as a soloist and with orchestra while still a student a the Moscow Conservatory.  Upon his graduation with distinction, he pursued his graduate studies at the Gnessin Institute in Moscow.  In 1991, he was invited to the United States as the featured recitalist for the Southwestern Youth Music Festival, and with six days’ notice performed the Rachmaninoff Concerto No 1 with the Festival Orchestra.  He then auditioned for the faculty of the University of Southern California and was immediately awarded a full-tuition scholarship to pursue his studies under Daniel Pollack. Korzhev holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from USC and is currently on the music faculty of California State University at Fullerton.

The pianist’s career has been filled with accolades. He earned a top award in the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition, which led to a series of performances that included a recital at the Palm Springs Desert Museum, and a solo recital and two orchestra appearances in Italy with the International Chamber Ensemble of Rome..  In 1998 he was a winner in the Heida Hermann International Piano Competition in Connecticut; in 2005 he took First Prize at the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition in Palm Desert.  Last year, Dr. Korzhev had a highly successful tour in Austria, including a live recording of his critically acclaimed debut in Vienna’s Konzerthaus, which was broadcast by the leading Austrian radio station.

The Encore Series was established to bring renowned classical artists to the Big Bear Valley. The first concert of the 2007 series featured the Desert Wind Trio, a flute-bassoon-clarinet ensemble that performed works by D'Rivera, Beethoven and Mozart at the Eagle Knolls home of Jack and Ellyn Williams.    

The Mikhail Korzhev concert begins at 3pm on June 30 with a ticket price of $25; payment may be made at the door. For reservations and directions call at 585-5916.   

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