Facebook-square ImageTwitter-square ImageYoutube-square ImageInstagram ImageLinkedin-square ImageHome Image

A “Grand” artistic experience awaits in Tracy

A “Grand” artistic experience awaits in Tracy Main Photo

17 Feb 2023


California’s Bay Area routinely receives accolades as one of the best artistic regions in the country. But lovers of music, performances, art and other cultural treasures know a glittering jewel awaits them just over the Altamont Pass to the east.

“People of all ages can find the culture they seek at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts,” said Anna Cross, the City of Tracy’s Cultural Arts Manager. “The exciting performances, thought-provoking exhibits, and arts education programs offer unforgettable experiences right in downtown Tracy.”

The “Grand,” as locals call it, is a plethora of artistic endeavors and entertainment options in one location. The most familiar piece may be the 547-seat Eleni Kounalakis Theatre, built in 1923 as a vaudeville/movie house. But there is also a smaller studio theater, numerous spaces for art education programs and three galleries to house various art exhibitions.

“The Grand is truly amazing inside, with so much under one roof,” said Cross. “The fact that it is one of only a handful of municipal facilities in the country offering all this highlights the investment Tracy makes in the arts, which in turn is an investment in our local community and local businesses.”

Theater Presentations

The most notable draw at the Grand may be the Eleni Kounalakis Theatre. It retains its original charm after being remodeled in 2007, with colorful seating creating a warm environment for the stage performances. But the performances on that stage may be even more impressive.

“We bring in very high caliber, award-winning and acclaimed artists that don’t often perform in a 547-seat theater,” said Cross. “Coupled with the intimate setting and reasonable prices, attendees’ access to artists that perform worldwide at some of the top venues, such as the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Stanford Live and UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances, makes for an incredible experience.”

On-stage programming is designed to represent the community’s diversity and is carefully curated to appeal to a broad audience. Concerts range from Blues, ‘80s Rock, R&B, Singer-Songwriters, Mariachi, Country and Gospel to music from around the world, top tribute bands, and more. The Stockton Symphony performs there annually, as do several regional dance companies. The Grand also offers events like Open Mic Night which gives local performers a stage and Comedy Nights which are great mid-week date nights showcasing some of the best comics from across the state. The smaller studio theater is perfect for small productions and community uses. 

Arts Education

Since 2007, the Grand has been the site for a vibrant collection of arts education programs, reaching more than 24,000 students. Tiered classes in dance, drama, music, literary and visual arts run year-round, where accomplished instructors teach students of all ages.

“Our instructors are regional community members who have a great affinity for wanting to teach others the skills they have,” said Cross. “The fantastic facilities we have allow students to learn from excellent artists in high-quality environments.”

Those facilities include a music wing with a resident baby grand piano, percussion lab and digital recording workstation. Children love an educational art studio just for them, featuring small furniture just their size. Dedicated dance studios and visual arts resources for painting, video production and a college-level ceramics/fused glass lab round out the space. 


The Grand Galleries are professional galleries that are free and open during public hours, where artists chosen from an ongoing call for proposals exhibit their works. Currently, the Out of the Corner of My Eye exhibit by David Casterson features genre paintings exploring places and landscapes often overlooked, like alleyways, road debris and dilapidated structures. The South Gallery includes special, curated exhibits of original artwork, limited editions, and artist-designed products from dozens of local, regional and national artists.

Downtown Anchor

The Grand is more than just a venue for arts and culture. It also serves as an essential community centerpiece, providing a significant economic impact on the city itself. On average, arts audiences spend $31.44 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission. Dinner and a show go hand-in-hand. The arts, unlike most industries, leverage significant amounts of event-related spending by their audiences—valuable income for local restaurants, parking garages, hotels, and retail stores.

In addition, the Tracy Arts Commission Granting Program directly encourages and helps artists, arts educators, and arts organizations to present arts or develop cultural-based projects in Tracy. The Commission intends to award up to four grants of $1,000 each between July 2023 and June 2024. 
The Grand Foundation is another key partner supporting the arts in downtown Tracy. They offer membership and fundraising programs that have supported on-stage programming, arts education and facility equipment improvements at the Grand, with annual underwriting contributions since the facility opened in 2007.

The Grand’s dedication to the arts radiates beyond its walls as well. The Cultural Arts Division facilitates Downtown Artwalks in the summer and Tracy Arts Month, an annual celebration of creativity and culture. The exterior walls of the Grand and the West Side Market Building are the focal point of the Downtown Tracy Mural Project, where artists display their temporary creations for extended periods before giving way to other works.

“The Grand is here for our residents and visitors to enjoy in so many different ways,” said Cross. “It is open to the public like a community center during the day, so its best daily use might be to come in with a coffee to do some work in the lobby or sit and be inspired by the artistic environment.”

Check out everything happening at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts to get your cultural fix today!