The Times spoke with Colton Dennis, Executive Director of the Merced Multicultural Arts Center (“the MAC”), to see what he hopes to bring in 2020.
Dennis told the Times, “2020 has the potential to be a really good year here in Merced, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.
“We’re going to celebrate Black History Month in our gallery in mid-January, and our second floor galleries will have Tonia Hemme’s work on display.
“The last several years, our big fundraiser was the Luau at the Lake. We had our last Luau in 2019. The new fundraiser will be the Mardis Gras in February at the MAC. All three floors will have a different theme, different live entertainment, and some fun things to do. People can dress up, and experience Mardis Gras style food and drinks. It should be fun and festive. A lot of times, people don’t realize that we have three stories. We have galleries on the first two levels and space on the third floor as well. We will have jazz bands and other entertainment throughout each level.
“We’re trying to keep the cost down so we can have younger people participate. This means the Mardis Gras is going to be cheaper than the Luau. Guests will be able to buy separate tickets for food and beverages, and can participate however much they want.”
Dennis explained that the theme for 2020 is for the MAC to connect more with the community, by inviting people into the Arts Center as much as possible in different ways.
He told the Times, “We’ll be working with the NAACP on the Black History Month display here.
“We’re working with a Native American who does workshops and pow wows throughout California, and we’re going to see if we can make it happen here. “We’re incorporating as many cultures as possible.”
Key buildings in downtown Merced currently getting a facelift — El Capitan, Tioga, and Mainzer — will become either new or revitalized neighbors of the MAC, and Dennis wants to work with them on projects which will add to the excitement and fun for the community on Main Street.
He explained that the El Cap, which expanded toward Main Street from M Street, will still be a hotel but with a sit-down restaurant, a take-out restaurant, a part with more modern rooms, and another part which will be more historical.
The Tioga, which was a hotel, will be apartments and condos in the same style as the hotel to attract young professionals to live downtown.
Mainzer is going to be a concert venue and a movie venue for old movies, and there will be some food available there as well.
Dennis told the Times, “When those are all finished, we should have a lot of people frequenting this part of Main Street, and we’ll be working with our new neighbors to see what kinds of collaborations we can come up with. We’re talking about block parties and other ideas. This is really exciting.”