Things to Do in Modesto

Things to Do in Modesto California

Artists and art enthusiasts of all kinds relish in the many cultural outlets found in Modesto. A variety of performing art venues, art organizations, galleries and museums enrich the lives of Modesto area residents, and with the presence of such groups as the Modesto Community Concert Association and the Central California Art Association, the local cultural scene remains vibrant.

With its grand opening in 2007, the Gallo Center for the Arts has set a new standard for the arts, education and entertainment for the entire region of Central California. Top-flight arts and entertainment from around California, the USA and around the world appear before audiences from all parts of Stanislaus County and nearby communities. This exciting new center is a state-of-the-art performing arts complex and is the focus of arts, entertainment, multicultural programming and social activities for the Central Valley. The center houses two performance venues, the 1,244-seat Mary Stuart Rogers Theater and the 444-seat Foster Family Theater.

Part of the Modesto cultural scene since 1950, the purpose of the MCCA is to bring audiences and artists together as every individual should have the opportunity to experience the best in live performing arts. The MCCA also nurtures young artists by producing an annual Young Artist Concert featuring young classically trained musicians of all ages who have been critiqued by judges and awarded the highest rating at the Annual Solo and Ensemble Festival held each spring. From Broadway stars to classical composers, the Modesto Community Concert Association is another fine organization that utilizes the Gallo Center for the Arts venue to showcase cultural talent for the local community.

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 80th season this year. Its professional musicians present a full season of classical concerts each year as well as Pops, holiday concerts and educational concerts for children. Under the artistic direction of David Lockington, the symphony is an outstanding cultural asset for the community.

One of the longest running “shows” in Modesto, MPA began in 1967 as Modesto Youth Theatre under the auspices of Modesto City Schools. The guiding force was, and remains, former Modesto High School drama instructor, Paul Tischer. Every summer since its inception the company has presented two summer musicals. When the Summer Youth Program expanded to a more professional theater experience, the name was changed to reflect the new direction for the company. MPA has performed most of the “classic” musical plays and has reached an even broader audience with its children’s shows during the school year, and its occasional foray into sponsorship of dramas, comedies and dance. In recent years, the company has brought in the talents of actors and actresses from Los Angeles and San Francisco. MPA’s real secrets are the number of local performers who have started on the stage at Modesto High School and advanced to professional careers in film and theater.

The Townsend Opera Players have been staging opera and musical theater masterpieces for more than 25 years. Founded by Erik Buck Townsend, the professional group presents several full productions each year, plus an annual “Messiah”, and a New Year’s Eve concert with dining and dancing. They also offer an extensive educational outreach program.

Artistic Director since 2004, René Daveluy has propelled Central West Ballet to new heights celebrating its 24th year in 2011. Central West Ballet is a nonprofit dance company dedicated to inspiring excellence in dance and infusing passion that fosters a high quality, financially supported, professional dance company.

Modesto offers many outlets for the dramatic arts through several local organizations in and around Modesto. The Gallo Center for the Arts has a prominent spot in Modesto’s cultural scene providing an array of live performances. Modesto Community Concert Association and Modesto Performing Arts present concerts, solo artists, musicals and children’s theatrical performances. The Prospect Theatre Project on Scenic Drive is dedicated to providing alternative theatrical experiences for the community. Modesto Junior College and California State University, Stanislaus, offer plays and musicals throughout the academic year. Live music can be heard at the State Theatre, Fat Cat and the Barkin’ Dog to name a few. And of course, MoBand livens up Modesto for six weeks in summer. Visual arts are presented at the Central California Art Association/Mistlin Gallery, an art gallery and studio located in downtown Modesto.

In addition to the area’s performing arts organizations, galleries and museums is a year-round calendar of annual events. Local favorite MoBand takes the stage throughout the summer in the Mancini Bowl at Graceada Park, while well-known bands and performers draw crowds to Downtown Modesto for the music-filled X Fest. The crisp fall air is welcomed in with the Chamber’s Oktoberfest event, followed by the holiday favorite City of Lights Parade and Downtown Extravaganza. In addition, the Chamber sponsors numerous events throughout the year, including the Business-to-Business Trade Show, the State of the City and State of the Region Luncheons, the Annual Awards Dinner and a full listing of networking opportunities through Business Before Hours and Business After Hours.