Arts Visalia During the Pandemic and Beyond

Nov 14, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Lorie Lewis Ham

by Lorie Lewis Ham

2020 has been a rough year for everyone and the arts community have definitely been struggling to find ways to still share their gifts with the community and to keep going financially. We recently chatted with Michelle Goans, the Gallery Director at Arts Visalia, to find out how they have been doing.

KRL: During normal times, what all does Arts Visalia do?

Michelle: Arts Visalia is a nonprofit visual arts center located in downtown Visalia. During normal times, we are open to the public four days a week, offering monthly art exhibitions featuring local, national, and international artists. In addition, we have a gift gallery filled with unique items handcrafted by local artists. Meet-the-artists receptions celebrate the opening of each month’s exhibition on the first Friday of the month. Artist talks provide the opportunity to hear the stories behind the creation of the artworks. Arts Education classes for children and adults, including workshops and open studio sessions, are held year-round.

Arts Visalia Gallery

KRL: What have you done to adapt to the current crisis and what sort of things are you offering the public virtually?

Michelle: Adaptations during the pandemic included going virtual with our monthly exhibitions and artist interviews. You can view all of the created gallery tours at and artist interviews at New gallery tours will be created each month and available online for those who wish to view from the comfort of their own home.

KRL: I know another thing that you have been doing are Children’s Arts Kits, please tell use about those.

Michelle: In lieu of in-gallery classes, we have developed at-home arts education kits for children. Kits are geared for specific age groups and include step-by-step directions, access to a demonstration video, and most of the supplies needed to complete several engaging projects at home. You can enroll for Fall kits at Each kit is $25.00, which includes free shipping, and scholarships are available for those in need.

KRL: Are people able to go to the gallery in person now? If so, how does that work with the Covid safety measures?

Michelle: Our gallery is once again open to visitors during our usual gallery hours. Masks and social distancing are required for the safety of our guests and staff.

KRL: What do you currently have going on and what artwork is currently on display?

Michelle: Currently, November 4 to December 23, our Annual Holiday Show and Sale fills the gallery with amazing gift items such as jewelry, ceramics, illustrations, books, sculptures, hand-painted decorative or functional pieces, glass art objects, paintings, photographs, and more from over 30 local artists. We are open Wednesdays through Saturdays, Noon to 5:30 p.m., plus two special shopping opportunities on Museum Store Sunday, November 29, from Noon-4:30 p.m. and Friday, December 4, until 8 p.m.

KRL: What else do you have coming up? Virtually and/or in person.

Michelle: We are very excited about our upcoming Community Art Show in January entitled “Surviving or Thriving: 2020 in Review.” Arts Visalia is accepting applications to be a part of this juried exhibition until Dec 4 at We can’t wait to see 2020 chronicled through the amazing works of our community’s artists.

KRL: Has it been hard to survive financially during this crisis?

Michelle: To date, Arts Visalia has weathered the shutdown fairly well financially. Our income is derived largely through grant funding sought from local and regional organizations and through our fundraising efforts from local individual donors. While a couple of our grantors did not fund applications this year, with the adaptation of at home art kits in lieu of in-gallery classes, other grantors did not ask us to return funding previously received. We had to amend our annual signature fundraiser in May. Our sale of orchid greeting cards designed by local artists was successful, yet not as profitable as our live orchids for Mother’s Day of previous years. PPP and United Way Tulare County COVID Relief funding helped supplant losses in revenue. We are pleased that we have been able to retain our employees and continue to provide opportunities for all to engage in the visual arts throughout the pandemic shutdown.

KRL: What can the public do to help?

Michelle: You can help support the arts in your community through Arts Visalia:
• Go to to make your donation or sponsor a child’s art kit. A $50 donation provides an at home art kit for one child who ordinarily might miss out on such an opportunity to explore his artistic talents and discover the joy of art.
• While you’re on our website, check out the line-up of upcoming exhibitions and plan your next visit.
• Take advantage of our Holiday Show and Sale, from November 4 to December 23, to find that unique handcrafted gift for someone special on your gift-giving list, or for yourself. Shop Wednesdays through Saturdays from Noon-5:30 p.m., Museum Store Sunday, November 29, from Noon-4:30 p.m., and at our Shopportunity Event, Friday, December 4, until 8 p.m. Free gift wrapping, too!
• Order an at-home art kit online for a child in your life and we will mail it to them free of charge.

KRL: Anything else you would like to share?

Michelle: Arts Visalia is celebrating 25 years as the area’s premiere center for the visual arts. At the time that a pioneering group of artists and art lovers got together to discuss a cultural arts center for Visalia, there was no permanent place to view visual arts exhibitions or participate in art classes for children or adults. That persevering group of visionaries formed a working board, filed articles of incorporation, and raised money to purchase the historic creamery building that is our gallery home today. With the support of many throughout the years, we have fervently carried on their vision and are pleased to pay tribute to our Silver Anniversary. As we commemorate this milestone, we acknowledge and thank the original building partners and all who continue to invest in making Arts Visalia a vibrant center for the visual arts. We hope you’ll join us throughout 2021 as we recognize our founders and building partners, recount our history, and celebrate our vision of educating, engaging, and enhancing our community through the visual arts.

For more information on what is happening at Arts Visalia check out our website at or follow us on social media: and

Check out more local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. Don’t miss the recent article we did about Theatre in the Valley during shelter-in-place.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


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