Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Selma opens the doors of its new Arts Center Wednesday evening with a ribbon cutting ceremony. And while the building's striking architecture is creating a buzz, its mission as a cultural center has captured the community's imagination. Valley Public Radio’s Joe Moore reports.

Dozens of painters, plasterers, and electricians were hard at work today in downtown Selma, putting the finishing touches on a new jewel in the city's downtown - the $2.5 million Selma Arts Center. 

How I Started an Opera Company in Visalia

Jul 29, 2013
Visalia Opera Company

How did I, of all people, end up starting an opera company? The answer has to do with being willing to forget about credentials and just take that first step. The answer also has to do with the open culture of my hometown.

I grew up in Visalia, singing Gloria Estefan and Selena songs at county fairs. All I wanted to do when I grew up was to be a pop singer—to shake my booty on stage and wear glittery outfits. I didn’t know the first thing about opera.


One of today’s brightest young stars in the world of hip hop is from Fresno. His name is Fashawn. He’s been on the cover of XXL Magazine, he’s toured internationally with some of the biggest MC’s, and his own recordings and videos like the critically acclaimed “Boy Meets World” combine clever wordplay and rhythms with a message.

Good Company Players

For generations Fresno residents have laughed and cried with the actors of the Good Company Players. Now celebrating 40 years on the stage in Fresno’s Tower District, the community theater company, and its founder Dan Pessano, are the subject of a new e-book from Fresno Bee features writer Donald Munro – called “The Company We Keep” – it’s available for download on the 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

One hundred years ago this summer, a group of U.S. Army cavalry soldiers left the Presidio in San Francisco, and made the hot dusty trek across the San Joaquin Valley to both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Veterans of the Spanish American War, were charged with protecting the new national parks from poachers, timber thieves, and with building park infrastructure. They were in essence America's first park rangers. 

When author Anne Fadiman first visited Merced in the late 1980s, she says more than 10,000 Hmong refugees and their children were living there. At that time, about one out of every six people living in Merced was Hmong, she says.

The hospitals were overwhelmed by the new refugee population, she recalls. Medical interpretation was not legally mandated at that time, and Merced Community Medical Center had just one Hmong interpreter. It often fell to the hospital janitor, or a family’s young child, to translate sensitive medical information to a patient.

This week on Valley Writers Read, we hear a story titled "A Life of Ease" by acclaimed novelist Steve Yarbrough. John Grisham wrote of Yarbrough, [he is] "wickedly observant, funny, cynical, evocative, and he possesses a gift that cannot be taught: he can tell a story." 

Yarbrough's 2004 novel "Prisoners of War" was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and his 1999 novel "The Oxygen Man" won the California Book Award.  He taught at Fresno State from 1988 - 2009. Yarbrough's story is about a minister in a small church in Mississippi and his interactions with his parishioners. 

This week on Valley Writers Read, Fresno author Sally Stallings reads two stories about Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet.  The author gives us a good look at what happened to both young and old—both backstage and out front at various Christmas performances of the popular ballet.  

This week on Valley Writers Read, our program revolves around the sport of golf with two stories by local authors. In Angelo Angarano's “Born Again Golfer,” we hear what happened to an avid golfer when he enlisted a Zen Buddhist golf pro to help him answer an important question. And in David Creighton's story “Golf!  A Four-Lettered Word”  the author describes what happened to a golfer who dumped three consecutive golf shots right into the middle of a lake.

When poet James Tyner was a child, he faced an uncertain future, including time spent homeless, and living in tough, gang-ridden neighborhoods in Southern California. He says two things helped "save" him: a love of literature and the city of Fresno.