Arts over athletics

Most people may not see the similarity between football and theater, but Carson City Parks and Recreation officials do: They're both leisure-time activities.

While sports may seem the more common activity, theater, arts and cultural events actually draw more participants than sports in Carson City, according to a survey conducted this spring.

The average Carson City household contains 1.2 people who participate in cultural, theater or art events. Meanwhile, there is less than one person for every two households who participate in occasional unorganized sports, sports through the city, sports through a league, through a school or through a church.

Of the nearly 900 people who responded to the parks and recreation department's six-page survey, 74 percent said they attend several such arts-oriented events throughout the year.

To parks and recreation officials, who have been focusing lately on neighborhood green space and a massive trail system, the results came a bit of a shock and a reminder. The recreation department, along with sports and athletics, is also in charge of a municipal theater and other venues such as the Pony Express Pavilion and major parks.

"It (the survey) has been an interesting eye-opener for staff in that (arts and culture) have that kind support in the community," said Carson City Park Planner Vern Krahn. "It gives us an opportunity to look at things in a different way."

Aside from city-run facilities, Carson City has several other venues such the Brewery Arts Center, Carson High School and Western Nevada Community College.

John Procaccini, new executive director at the arts center, said the results suggest promise for his organization and arts in general in Carson City.

The area is changing, he said, with new residents moving in from California and elsewhere, and the survey will help give the heads of nonprofit organizations like the BAC and others an idea of where it's going.

"I would have thought sports might be more prevalent, but attendance (at BAC shows) is generally good and on surveys we hand out they generally ask for more of these things," Procaccini said.

This year, the BAC is adding to its usual calendar of events with mainstays such as the popular BAC Stage Kids, with at least one Broadway show, "A Couple of Blaguards," from the author of Angela's Ashes. It's not a BAC production of the play, but the play with its Broadway cast.

"I think with the audiences that exist out there, we can fill a void," Procaccini said. "I think we're beginning to answer a call."

Krahn said the survey results will play a part in the parks department's creation of a new recreation master plan, though he isn't sure what the city may do in terms of arts, theater and cultural event venues or productions.

"It's a work in progress. We're going to let the community see (the new plan) a little bit at a time, then we'll go back and work on it more," said Krahn.

The next public airing of the parks and recreation planning will be Sept. 7 at the Carson River Advisory Committee meeting at the community center.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.


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