The Sierra Nevada Arts Alliance was born at Sierra Business Council's 2003 conference in Mammoth, CA. During the conference an "Arts Team", including the directors of nine arts councils along State Highway 49 from Mariposa County to Sierra County, came up with an action plan for sustaining the arts in the Sierra Nevada.

After the California Legislature cut funding to the California Arts Council by 94% in 2003, Arts Councils around the state were forced to slash budgets by up to 50 percent. The SBC conference offered an opportunity to spend two days brainstorming how to help their region. By the end, the "Arts Team" had a business plan for the Sierra Nevada Arts Alliance and had sketched out their first project, an Arts and Culture map for Highway 49.

In the months following the conference, they created a Memorandum of Understanding, raised seed money from partnering counties and received bids from designers for the map. In 2006, the Arts Council of Placer County and Sierra Business Council received a grant from the Compton Foundation to create a website and design the map.

The Sierra Nevada Arts and Culture Map, initially known as "Nine on 49" for the nine counties that founded the Sierra Nevada Arts Alliance, was intended to promote nine "must see" sites in each county for visitors and residents as they travel along Highway 49. With the creation of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in 2005, the plan has now been expanded to include all 22 counties embraced by the conservancy.

Masthead art credits: from left: Leslie Hurst; Jonathan Weldon; Don Hukar:David Post.