The entrance of the gallery for In Motion: Agam at Sunnylands. Photography: The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands. Photograph by Mark Davidson. ©2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


Happy New Year from the California Desert Arts Council!

We begin our first newsletter of the year with a measure of relief: The stimulus package that Congressional leaders agreed to in late December includes grant money to help the culture sector — from dive-bar rock clubs to Broadway theaters and museums — survive. Many small proprietors, The New York Times reports, describe it as their last hope for being able to remain in business after a nearly yearlong revenue drought.

At the state level, the California Arts Council opened the application process for all six of its grant opportunities, responding to the current and urgent needs of the state’s arts workforce and businesses. The grants include general operating funds for organizations, fellowships to support the creative practice of individual artists, and support for project-based activities. Applicant organizations must submit a racial equity statement. Click for details about the grant opportunities. Before applying, review additional information for grant applicants, plus informational workshops, archived webinars and more.

Locally, the city of La Quinta has begun taking applications for grants up to $10,000 available to small businesses needing assistance to get through the latest shutdown due to the pandemic, The Desert Sun reports. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Jan. 25, and grants will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis. Applications are available through the city’s website,, under the “economic development” link at the top of the website.

Here’s the latest news from arts organizations and events around the Coachella Valley:

Dezart Performs opens the New Year with live-streaming performances of Mental Amusements — featuring a combination of psychological tricks, illusion, visual art, and immersive storytelling — performed by Vinny DePonto from January 13 to 31. At-home viewers have the option to participate interactively with a Front Row Experience ticket or watch with a General Viewing Experience ticket. “This show has been an unexpected joy to perform,” says DePonto, whose recent Off-Broadway show Charlatan was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. “I’ve connected with folks from all around the world and, rather than their faces getting lost in a dark theater, I have been able to look them each in the eyes, albeit via a screen. It’s a very personal experience, which is what I love so much about this craft.” DePonto performs Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Tickets are $54 and $39 per household and available at

Sunnylands Center & Gardens has opened an exhibition of kinetic sculpture by the Israel-born artist Yaacov Agam, who has a deep history with the Annenbergs, as well as with Palm Springs Art Museum, which loaned works from its permanent collection. Palm Springs Life magazine offers a primer.

Modernism Week, which typically unfolds over two weeks in February, has rescheduled for April 8–18. Executive director Lisa Vossler Smith tells Palm Springs Life how her staff, consultants, and volunteers are preparing for the big event. Read more

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens has reopened as an “outdoor recreational facility,” The Desert Sun reports. The attraction offers miles of hiking trails and paved garden pathways. Food and beverage outlets, areas of gathering, indoor exhibits, giraffe feeding, and the carousel remain closed. Advanced reservations and face coverings are required.

La Quinta Art Celebration, normally scheduled for the first weekend in March, is being pushed to November 11–14 due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. The Desert Sun reports.

Palm Springs resident and opera singer Valerian Ruminski delivered a trifecta this year, launching two new CDs and reconnecting to his family roots. He discusses his sojourn into pop music and life in Coachella Valley with Palm Springs Life.