Building a Better Modesto

Modesto Art Museum

Funding Received: 2013
Modesto, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 26, 2013

Photo of two of the movie makers at the screening of Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton at the State Theatre in the Modesto Design District; photo courtesy Modesto Art Museum

We celebrated the centennial of the Modesto born poet and movie maker James Broughton with a screening of his autobiographic movie Testament and the new documentary about his life “Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton” on November 9. Members of the Modesto Stanislaus Poetry Center performed some of his poetry and read other poems about him and his Modesto experience. This was another in our series of events in the Modesto Design District.

The event was also the premier of the first video about the design district. It is now on Vimeo for your viewing pleasure. The video will be shown with movie trailers at a local theater.

The request for proposals for the public art piece is nearing completion and will be published in early January. Planning is also underway for a design exhibit for spring 2014.

The museum helped survey about 170 people of all ages at the local mall about their impressions of downtown Modesto. The most important piece of information gathered was that more than 50% of those surveyed said they had never been to downtown Modesto or that they only go there rarely and had no impression of it.

Recent Wins
The biggest win is that Prospect Theatre Project, one of the city’s premiere theatre companies, is moving into the design district. They plan to open their spring 2014 season of dramatic performances at a new facility on K Street between 12th and 13th Street.

The city of Modesto is organizing a downtown design committee. The Modesto Art Museum has been invited to be a member of the committee. The committee will review city projects in the downtown including the design district, offer suggestions, and facilitate the completion of the projects.

We are working to change impressions that people have about downtown and about the city as a whole. Learning that large numbers have no impression at all of the area is significant. In a way, this helps our work a lot. We don’t have to overcome negative thinking about the design district; we just need to instill in people positive feelings and thinking about the area. This is where the short video we made could be real helpful. Many people have no visual images of the area. They don’t know what the place looks life or what it has to offer. The video will give them images that are upbeat and positive.