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Grand Theatre Center for the Arts: One of a kind
Unique wooden bowls are grouped together in one corner of the co-op gallery of the Grand Theatre for the Arts in Tracy. The view outside shows a busy part of the citys downtown intersection. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Country music legend Willie Nelson helped put Tracy on the global map when he performed at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts in July. Willie Nelson & Family Live in Concert kicked off the sixth Presenting Season offering at this interdisciplinary arts venue in the heart of Tracy’s historic downtown.

The Grand is the only one of its kind in California where arts education, exhibitions, and performances of all kinds – professional and community-based alike – converge in one large interconnected facility. In fact, the City of Tracy which runs this multifaceted arts avenue, believes the arts jewel downtown is “one of only a handful of similar facilities in America.”

One of the Grand’s offerings that help this redevelopment project worthy of those accolades is its Arts Education Program described as “a unique and complex component of the Center.” There is something for everyone interested in learning about art of every discipline – from tiered classes in dance, drama, music, and visual arts to exhibits ranging from raku, fabric art, woodcarving, oils, watercolors, and mixed media, among many others.

In fact, the Grand has two art galleries where the original creations of various artists are highlighted. They are appropriately located in a corner of the front building where they receive as much visibility to passers-by as the iconic Grand Theatre marquee.

One of the galleries is called the co-op, which is being described as the “sales area” because the art pieces on display here are all available for purchase. In addition to the art works for sale are limited-edition illustrated books, plus freebies that include dated art magazines.

The other gallery located across the lobby is where the changing exhibitions are held. Various artists are featured every eight weeks, with artist receptions held at each opening.

These two galleries are open to the general public during regular business hours – Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Private visits are available by prior arrangement.

The Grand’s interdisciplinary art classes and exhibit offerings continue to grow every year. The Arts Education Program alone currently boasts an annual enrollment of 2,000 to 2,500 a year.

For more information about the various arts programs offered at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, visit

209 staff reporter