In the spring of 1997, Marie Damrell Gallo was asked by then Modesto Mayor Dick Lang to assemble a research team to investigate the feasibility of building a downtown performing arts center. A team of about 20 people was assembled from the private and public sectors, including various community and business leaders. The next seven years would see exhaustive research and fundraising phases that would ultimately shape what the Gallo Center would become. Following architectural planning that had begun in 2001, construction began in 2004. Here’s a video tribute to the incredible woman who led the way:

The state-of-the-art Gallo Center for the Arts was built at a cost of $47 million and opened in the fall 2007 with a week of star-studded performances representing numerous genres of arts and entertainment.

From the outset it was intended that the programming of the Gallo Center for the Arts would reflect the interests, diversity and history of the people that call the San Joaquin their home, and that the facility itself would be a landmark in the region for decades to come. Today it is all of that and more—an outstanding community asset that has set a new standard for the arts in Central California.

Regional arts organizations, artists and performers produce shows of a style, scope, and quality never deemed possible in the past. Top-flight entertainment from around the world appear before audiences from all parts of Stanislaus County and neighboring communities. Educational opportunities for students at all levels in our community are both extraordinary and abundant.

The Gallo Center for the Arts unquestionably will be the focus of arts, entertainment, multicultural programming, arts education and social activities in the San Joaquin Valley for generations to come.

About the Building

Owner: Stanislaus County
Operated by: Gallo Center for the Arts, Inc.
Project Cost: $47 million
Executive Architect: Nestor + Gaffney Architecture, LLP
Design Architect: Carrier Johnson
Design and Theater Architect: John Sergio Fisher & Associates, Inc.
Acoustical Designer: Jaffe Holden Acoustics, Inc.
General Contractor: Clark and Sullivan

The Role of Stanislaus County

Stanislaus County

The Gallo Center for the Arts was made possible by a public/private partnership with the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors and the generous community donors to the Gallo Center for the Arts. The combination of public and private money is so frequently used to fund cultural centers because of the number of civic benefits brought to communities, including:

  • The well-documented economic development impact of such projects on downtown centers
  • Increased tax revenues by attracting new businesses and homeowners
  • Enriched educational opportunities for young people
  • Opportunities for local artists to expand audiences and to develop organizationally and artistically.

These outcomes are of incalculable value to a community, and for this reason, enlightened local governments, like Stanislaus County, are eager to reap the proven benefits of such projects for their residents.

“So many have worked so hard and given so much to bring the Gallo Center for the Arts to our community,” stated Patty Hill Thomas, then Chief Operating Officer for Stanislaus County and project manager for construction of the center.

How the Permanent Endowment Fund Was Created

To ensure the continued success of the Gallo Center for the Arts following its opening in 2007, $15 million was set aside in a permanent endowment fund. The investment of $10 million from the Gallo family, and $5 million from the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation, provided supplemental funding for educational programs and presentations that could not otherwise be offered, provided affordable access to the arts for residents of Stanislaus County and beyond, and provided funds for the perpetuation and improvement of the physical facilities of the Gallo Center for the Arts.

We appreciate the generosity of these families who made the Gallo Center a reality!

Historical Timeline of the Gallo Center for the Arts


Spring 1997

  • Mayor Dick Lang appoints Marie Gallo to assemble a research team to investigate the feasibility of building a performing arts center.
  • A research team of about 20 people is assembled.
    • From the private sector, there are various community and business leaders;
    • From the public sector, there are representatives from the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, Modesto City Council, California State University, Stanislaus, Modesto Junior College, Modesto City Schools, and the County Office of Education.
    • The research team visits the Valley Center for the Performing Arts in Oakland and the Dean Lescher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

October 1997

The research team hires AMS Planning and Research to conduct a public survey, market analysis, and to obtain information from local arts organizations who would be potential tenants.


February 1998 - The AMS study is completed and finds:
  • Scheduling conflicts in existing facilities;
  • Existing facilities are inadequate and/or not equipped for touring productions, big name performers, and even the requirements of local groups, such as the Modesto Symphony and Modesto Performing Arts;
  • The educational institutions which owned the facilities wants to reclaim them for their intended purpose: the use by their students; and
  • Expansion or renovation of existing high school or college auditoriums is cost-prohibitive and not productive.

March 1998 - Stanislaus County and the City of Modesto approves giving $50,000 each toward conducting a feasibility study for a performing arts center.

April 1998 - Mayor Dick Lang, Marie Gallo, Delmar Tonge, Ellen Burns, Modesto Bee writer Walt Williams, and Modesto Bee photographer Bart Ah You travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to tour the Walton Arts Center.

May 1998 - The Modesto Bee conducts a survey which shows widespread support for an arts center.

Summer 1998 - Research team members tour the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, and the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach.

December 1998 - The research team decides that a feasibility study is the next appropriate step and hires a team of consultants to do a feasibility study concerning the development and operation of a performing arts center in Stanislaus County.The consultant team consists of:

  • Knudson-Benson Associates of Seattle, Washington, an architectural and engineering firm specializing in the design of the physical components of performing arts centers, including the functional, technical, and space requirements;
  • RDC Project Development of Langley, Washington, a consulting firm specializing in fund-raising for the performing arts; and
  • Mitze Productions of Malibu, California, a consulting firm specializing in the management and programming of performing arts centers.


Spring 1999 - The Knutson-Benson Consulting team does the following:

  • Inspects all other facilities available for the performing arts in and around Stanislaus County;
  • Interviews the leaders of non-profit performing arts groups and other interested parties to determine whether there is a need for a performing arts center in Stanislaus County and, if so, the appropriate size and scope of such a facility;
  • Develops a detailed capital cost estimate for construction of a performing arts center (land and construction cost of $30 million) and made recommendations concerning the organizational structure, a five-year operating plan, and fund-raising strategy for the Central Valley Center for the Arts (the CVCA)

June 1999 - The Feasibility Study is completed and concludes, among other things, that the art center is imminently feasible. The CVCA concludes that the organizational and financing structure to construct the performing arts center needs to be a partnership:

  • A 3-way partnership consisting of Stanislaus County, the City of Modesto, and the CVCA.
  • The County and City will contribute $15 million each to build the facility.
  • The CVCA will raise a minimum of $15 million for a permanent endowment fund to defray the costs of operating the facility to keep ticket prices affordable and to allow local arts groups to rent the facility at a reasonable rental rate.
  • The CVCA will lease the facility back from the City and County for a long-term lease with $1 a year rent.

July 7, 1999 - The pledge from the Gallo Family of $10 million toward the endowment is announced, along with plans for a performing arts center, costing $30 million, consisting of a 1,200-seat theater, a 400-seat theater, and an art gallery. An endowment goal of $15 million is also announced. The site is designated as the block bounded by H, I, 10th, and 11th Streets.

July 21, 1999 - The CVCA is incorporated as the Central Valley Center for the Arts, Inc., a non-profit public benefit corporation.

August 30, 1999 - The IRS determines that the CVCA is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

October 13, 1999 - The Franchise Tax Board determines that the CVCA is exempt from state franchise or income taxes under Revenue and Taxation Code section 23701(d).

October 19, 1999 - The Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation announces its pledge of $5 million toward the endowment of the arts center.

October 1999 - The CVCA tours the Christopher Cohen Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo.

November/December 1999 - Four new council members are elected to the Modesto City Council, and the CVCA loses majority support on the Council for the arts center.


May 2, 2000 - The City Council refuses to make any financial commitment and votes to form a Joint Powers Authority with Stanislaus County only to explore the project feasibility.

May 9, 2000 - The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors agrees to form a Joint Powers Authority.

July 2000 - The City of Modesto announces that Modesto cannot afford to pay its share of the cost of a performing arts center.

August 1, 2000 - The Modesto City Council votes to place Measure F on the ballot to increase the City's hotel tax from 9% to 11% in order to finance a $7.5 million contribution toward the arts center. Several council members actively work to defeat Measure F.

August 15, 2000 - The Board of Supervisors approves funding of $15 million, which includes use of the site bordered by H, I, 10th, and 11th Streets.

November 7, 2000 - Measure F fails.

  • Measure F would have increased Modesto's hotel tax from 9% to 11% with the increase proceeds going to help build the arts center.
  • Measure F obtains 46.9% out of a required 66.7% of votes.

December 2000 - The CVCA hires the executive search firm of Morris & Berger to assist in the hiring of an executive director.


January 2001 - The CVCA announces a plan to raise the money alone without the City of Modesto

March 27, 2001 - The Board of Supervisors approve:

  • Going forward with a partnership with the CVCA alone without the City of Modesto.
  • Competition to select the design architect.
  • Preliminary 3-year schedule.

April 2001 - The CVCA and the County start a search for design and theater architects.

April 10, 2001 - The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors votes to name the arts center the Gallo Performing Arts Center in honor of the Gallo family's $10 million contribution to the endowment.

May 10, 2001 - A fund-raiser is held at the home of Bob and Marie Gallo.

  • A pledge of $3 million toward construction is made by Foster Farms.
  • $2.9 million in additional pledges are made that night.

July 4, 2001 - The CVCA's July 4th parade entry "Arts for All" wins the Chairman's Trophy.

July 18, 2001 - The Board of Supervisors approve:

  • Design concept & selection of design architect.
  • Project budget and schedule.
  • Proceeding with schematic and design development

August 2001 - The CVCA hires its first employee, Claudine Gray.

September 2001 - The CVCA and the County approve selection of Carrier Johnson as design architects, John Sergio Fisher & Associates as theater architects, and Nestor & Gaffney Architecture, LLP as the Executive Architect.

November 2001 - The CVCA hires Gary Schaub as Interim Administrator.

December 26, 2001 - The architect submits a schematic design.


January 7, 2002 - The CVCA rejects the design of the front facade and requests added design work for the facade and plaza.

March 12, 2002 - The CVCA accepts the new design and agrees to pay for the increased cost of $1.44 million for the re-designed front facade and garden courtyard.

May 14, 2002 - At the CVCA's request, the Board of Supervisors votes to change the name of the center to the Gallo Arts Center.

July 16, 2002 - The CVCA Board of Directors tours the Orange County Performing Arts Center and reviews construction and interior materials.

July 18, 2002 - The CVCA Board of Directors take Mayor Sabatino, Councilman Frohman, Councilman Jackman, City Manager Jack Crist, Deputy City Manager George Britton, and Director of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Jim Niskanen to tour the Dean Lescher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

September 11, 2002 - The CVCA tours the Mondavi Center at U.C. Davis.


March 25, 2003 - A demolition ceremony is held at the construction site. The City of Modesto approves funding of $602,000 for curb, gutter and streetscape improvements for the Gallo Center for the Arts

May 7, 2003 - The CVCA opens contractor's bids, and the lowest bid is $4 million over the construction budget. The CVCA and the County reject the bids.

May 10, 2003 - Articles of Organization are filed for Gallo Arts Center, LLC.

June 2003 - Michael Grice is hired as the Center’s first Executive Director.

July 17, 2003 - The CVCA unveils the re-designed facade and its plan to defer the art gallery and the garden courtyard to Phase II.

July-December 2003 - Architect and engineers redesign the building to bring it within budget.


February 4, 2004 - The CVCA opens contractor's bids. The lowest bid is from Clark & Sullivan.

February 12, 2004 - Kathleen Nicely starts as the Development Director of the Gallo Arts Center.

February 17, 2004 - At the request of the CVCA, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors votes to change the name of the arts center to the Gallo Center for the Arts.

March 2, 2004 - The Board of Supervisors votes to award the construction contract to the lowest bidder, the construction firm of Clark & Sullivan.

March 23, 2004 - Induction of the Board of Trustees at the home of Bob and Marie Gallo.

April 27, 2004 - Groundbreaking and $1 million challenge grant is issued if $2 million can be raised from the community by October 31, 2004.

May 26, 2004 - A benefit dinner for the challenge grant is held at the home of Jim and Sue Coleman.

September 12, 2004 - A benefit for the challenge grant and the Westside of Stanislaus County is held at Diablo Grande Golf Club with Rita Moreno.

October 31, 2004 - The challenge grant ends and is successful with over $2 million secured and additional $1 million received from an anonymous challenge grant donor.


May 13, 2005 - Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith benefit premiere.

October 2005 - Brian McCurdy hired as Executive Director.


March 28, 2006 – The Gallo Center receives a $3 million anonymous challenge to raise an additional $3 million towards equipment and furnishings.


January 2007 - Dave Pier named the Center’s third Executive Director.

August 18, 2007 – Gallo Center presents single tickets as available to the public during the Modesto Art & Wine Festival.

September 10, 2007 - Gallo Center ribbon cutting event.

September 14, 2007 – Gallo Center hosts a Founders Reception with a performance of Seussical by YES Company.

September 20, 2007 – Gallo Center hosts Hard Hat Concert in recognition of contractors dedicated to the building’s construction with a performance by Home Grown.

September 27, 2007 – The Gallo Center for the Arts grand opening with a performance by Patty LuPone and the Modesto Symphony Orchestra followed by post performance opening gala.

October 2007– The Gallo Center for the Arts receives it first Irvine Grant for $300,000.


August 22, 2008 – The Gallo Center for the Arts opens its second season with performances by Bernadette Peters in the Mary Stuart Rogers Theater and Jakob Dylan in the Foster Family Theater followed by post performance opening gala.

November 2008 – Bryan Branco is hired as Director of Fianance.


January 2009 – Doug Hosner is hired as Director of Marketing.

October 5, 2009 – Lynn Dickerson is hired as CEO of the Gallo Center for the Arts.

December 2009 – E&J Gallo Winery pledges $1M gift as a challenge grant. John and June Rogers add $500k to the challenge grant. Grant is scheduled to end December 31, 2011.

December 2009 – Dan Costa and family pledge $1,000,000 to Arts Education/under privileged children at the Center.


January 2010 – Jim Johnson signs on as volunteer Arts Education Coordinator

May 2010 – First annual Costa Family Fund event is held. Over $200k raised. Dan Costa is the speaker at the public event.

June 2010 – Center finishes the fiscal year in the black for the first time.

July 2010 – Katie Mendez is promoted to Director of Development.

July, 2010 – Duets program is launched.

August 2010 – Investment committee created. Chaired by Doug Vilas. Made up of Bob Tubman, Paul Draper, Jeff Burda, Eric Benson.

September 30, 2010 – GCA acquires its own beer & wine license and takes over its own concession sales, improving margins from 15% to approximately 40%.

October 2010 – GCA notified it was selected to receive $350,000 from Irvine Foundation.


May, 2011 – 12’x20’ LED outdoor marquee sign is installed on the exterior of the Foster fly tower giving the Center the ability to advertise its offerings. Sign was gifted to the Center by the Dan & Denise Costa family.

June 9, 2011 – Garden Gala fundraiser held in the gardens of Bob & Marie Gallo. $301,792 (net) was raised.

June 30, 2011 – GCA finishes the year $600k better than budget – in the black for the second year in a row.

July 12/13, 2011 – 2nd annual Costa Family Fund Valley Apprentice event was held. Trump brothers on hand.

September 16, 2011 – GCA introduces Whirley cups that allow patrons to take drinks into the theater, significantly increasing concession sales.

November 21, 2011 – Norm and Evan Porges re-direct prior gift of $100,000 to fund transportation grants for school children, increasing the attendance at Arts Ed performances.

11-12 Season – Under the direction of Arts Education Coordinator Jim Johnson, an annual traveling prevention program is launched. The first one was The Boy Who Cried Bully. These plays dealing with social issues in schools proved to be very popular. Subsequent equally successful productions were Mean Girlz are Bullies Too, Bully Buster Rides Again, Only 13 and Molly Bloom Lately.


June 30, 2012 – GCA caps off 5th season with record breaking attendance and ticket sales. Ticket sales reached $4M, approximately $886,000 more than our previously highest grossing season – the inaugural season of 07-08.

August 30, 2012 – GCA kicks off 6th season with sold out house for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.


June, 2013 - Creation Station Art & Music camps are launched with great success. Ginger Colla and Debbie One directed the music camp and Amy Vickery directed the Arts Camp. This program is intended to be done annually.

First Light Energy donates a solar roof installation valued at more than $100k to GCA. Estimated annual savings were $7000.

June 28, 2013 - An Evening in the Vineyard fundraising gala held at the home of Bob & Marie Gallo netted approximately $330,000 for the GCA.

Sept, 2013 – Carpet was replaced throughout the building at a cost of approximately $135,000. Work was done by House of Carpets/Carpet One.

November, 2013 - Carla Whitehurst is hired as Director of Development, replacing Katie Mendez.

Sept, 21, 2013 - Johnny Mathis kicks off the 7th season.


April 2014 - GCA and Modesto City Schools are chosen by the Kennedy Center as one of only 11 in the US to participate in their Partners in Education program. Lynn Dickerson and Cortney Hurst traveled to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, along with Michael Coates and Marla Mack from Modesto City Schools for training. SCOE was later asked to join the partnership.

June 9, 2014 - Center sustained extensive water damage caused by a malfunctioning ice maker on the second floor. An estimated 5000 gallons of water poured down the staircase during an approximate 24 hour time period. Patty Hill Thomas and Stanislaus County CEO’s office employees led a 3 month restoration effort to bring the Center back to its original state. No total damage figure was ever made public but it is estimated to have exceeded $1M. Center was finally put completely back together in late August, 2014. Only one rental event had to be moved offsite.

September 20, 2014 - GCA kicks off 8th season with sold out house for Natalie Cole.


Fall 2014/Spring 2015 - Three visiting artists conduct training for teachers in our community through the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program. The inaugural artists were Randy Barron, Arthur Benjamin and Sam Pierstorff. Cortney Hurst serves as the Kennedy Center PIE representative for the Gallo Center.

2014-15 Season - A breakthrough year for GCA in terms of reaching the Latino market. Big wins were booking Pepe Aguilar, Roberto Tapia, Ramon Ayala and Mariachi Vargas.

Spring 2015 - Window tinting is installed on all windows on the front of the building to cut down on sun exposure in the lobby.

June 19, 2015 - The Gallo Center hosted its third successful fund raising gala – Wine & Roses – was held in the home of Ann & Steve Endsley. $336k (net) was raised. Valet parking was a disaster but otherwise, it was a great event.

June 30, 2015 - GCA closes books on its most successful season to date with over $5M in ticket sales. Highest percent of house sold ever at 76.6% and $849,974 in Operating Income.

Summer 2015 – new POS system purchased and installed to make concession sales easier and more productive.


March 2016 - $6400 was raised from donors to light 27 trees on the plaza with twinkly lights.

April 2016 – Gallo Center Repertory Company was created. Jim Johnson was named the Artistic Director.

April 2016 – Cortney Hurst was named Arts Education Coordinator.

May 2016 – The first Talento Vivo en el Valle competition was held. This attracted a maximum number of entries at 24 Ballet folklorico and mariachi/ranchera singers.

2015-16 season – Record breaking season for our touring behavior prevention show, Molly Blooms Lately, with 72 performances.

2016 – Valley’s Got Talent was changed to The Valley Talent Project due to threats from America’s Got Talent.

June 30, 2016 – The Gallo Center ended its 9th season with highest ever percent of house sold at 78.3%, most sell outs (62) and highest ticket sales ($5.476M) and most students served through Pathways to Creativity (39,725).

July 7, 2016 – Bryan Branco resigns as Finance Director. Landon Skinner was hired to replace him. He began work on August 8, 2016.

October 2016 - Annual gala held at E&J Gallo Winery’s new Dry Creek Building. Record funds raised. More than $400k netted.

December 2016 - Amber Flores is promoted to co-director of Development overseeing grants, annual giving and foundations.


May 2017 - $5 million of bond debt was paid off with investment earning and excess cash flow from operations.

July 2017 – Ticket scanners implemented.

Fall 2017 – Print at Home ticket feature rolled out, followed shortly by Gallo Center Mobile ticketing app.

September 2017 – A “White Party” and community open house are held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Center.

Fall 2017 – Decade of Dedication campaign (suggested by Trustee John Jacinto) recognized 10 year annual donors who had given at least $25,000 in the first 10 years. Approximately $600,000 was raised.

2017 – With help from architect Bob DeGrasse, Huff Construction and Acme Construction, additional hand rails were installed in both theaters to improve safety and the perception of safety for patrons.


January 2018 - Jeremiah Lewis is hired as Production & Technical Director.

$3 million of bond debt was paid off with investment earnings and excess cash flow from operations.

March 2018 - An additional $1 million of debt is retired.

June, 2018 – Gallo Center Board of Directors approved $500,000 in capital purchases. Sound, Lighting, video, staging (curtain hardware) and box seat replacements.

August 2018 – Gallo Center enters into 10 year agreement with Stanislaus County Office of Education to take on annual YES Company musical. Cortney Betschart is promoted to Arts Education Director and Tiffany Davis is hired as Arts Education manger. Gallo Center Youth Academy is created.

August 2018 – Lauren Schmidt hired as first full-time Digital Marketing manager and Al Poulus is promoted to Chief Operating Officer.

Gallo Center Youth Academy began. Classes held in county owned building next door. Mon- Thursday after school programming in drama and music for 1st- 6th graders. Fall and spring semesters available with end of term production in Foster Theater.

Fall 2018 –Board agrees to allow Modesto Rotary Club to install a music garden on the lawn as the Centennial project for Modesto Rotary Club. 6-8 outdoor percussion instruments, professionally designed by landscape architect Chad Kennedy. Projected completion date is spring 2020. Total cost is projected at approximately $170k.


December, 2018/January 2019 - The first Broadway Dreams week long theater intensive takes place with a full slate of students. Finale event is sold out.

January 5, 2019 – Doug Hosner celebrates his 10th anniversary as Director of Marketing.

February 2019 – Executed a fundraising campaign to raise funds to re-install new twinkly lights in the 27 plaza trees. Raised $13,025 in less than an hour via email.

June 7, 2019 – 5th biennial fundraising gala held at the home of Joe & Ofelia Gallo. More than $400k was netted to benefit the operations of the Center and the Arts Education programming. A record amount was raised. Weather was beautiful. The Oren Swift winery item sold twice for $20k each – an all-time high price for an auction item.

July 2019 – Under the leadership of Cortney Hurst and artistic direction of Tiffany Davis, with technical and production support & design from Jeremiah Lewis and Thomas Garcia, GCA produced a very successful run of Singin’ in the Rain – complete with real “rain”’ on the stage. Huge success artistically and put doubts and questions of whether GCA was up to the task to rest.

July 2019 – GCA Board of Directors votes to take stock market earnings and retire an additional $1MM of debt, leaving a balance of approximately $700k.

2019-20 season – Stage floor was replaced. Wireless microphone system purchased to replace outdated system. Lobby monitors upgraded. Lobby furniture and box seats replaced or reupholstered. Network equipment updated.