Drawing over 6 million visitors a year, Big Bear Lake is Southern California’s favorite alpine and winter sport resort. It has the largest recreational lake in Southern California and yet with the year round tourism, few people know about Big Bear Lake’s unique local arts community and passionate Arts Council.
The Arts Council of Big Bear Valley has evolved during its 26-year history. When it was first organized in 1988 as Friends of the Performing Arts Center its purpose was to raise funds for the newly completed Performing Arts Center, an impressive venue with great productions to offer the small town of roughly 5,000 residents.
In order to expand their mission to include support for all of the arts, in 1998 The Friends of the Performing Arts Center became the Arts Council of Big Bear Valley (ACBBV for short). Since then they have been the centerforce for advancing the local arts community in Big Bear Valley, donating over $20,000 to the PAC for equipment upgrades, $10,000 in musical instruments to local high schools, establishing art education programs for schools, promoting local youth and talent, and producing relevant events to keep art a strong presence in the alpine town.
I had the pleasure of meeting with the Arts Council Executive Director Gail McCarthy, President Tim Breunig, and Big Bear City Manager Jeff Mathieus, who spoke with me about The Arts Council of Big Bear Valley, the Performing Arts Center, and more.