Carson City arts culture hopes to expand downtown

Local artists, employers and supporters know what would make a culturally rich community: To combine art with Nevada’s history and education, and light up vacant downtown buildings with artwork.

Citizens of Carson City gathered at the Brewery Arts Center Tuesday to discuss the community’s vitality in its arts culture, in which many ideas were in competition with Reno’s culture.

“I want to do things for Carson City as a whole,” said local artist supporter Jose Chavez. “I want to be a part of it. I don’t always want to go to Reno to enjoy art.”

With dedication to ensure creative innovation in the city, about 50 people attended and shared their ideas.

The last meeting in Carson City was held March 13, 2014. Some of the common topics discussed were improving artist marketplace, access to city and state property, communication outreach, and art awareness advocacy. When asked about a vision of a culturally rich community, many answers consisted of exposing artists and spreading the word.

Two years later, locals are more concerned about how and where the art is displayed while connecting with the community. Not only does the culture want to expand to local businesses, but also through museums and historical landmarks to support fundamental learning.

This consists of getting involved with the Railroad Museum, Stewart Indian School and literary arts community. Other ideas include creating connections with local Native American history.

“We have so much diversity in our community and history is core,” said Mary Fischer, former member of the Gardner’s Reclaiming Our Waysides organization. “If we could pull up the history and show its uniqueness, it will make our town different, a place people would want to visit and not always have to go to Reno to see it.”

Local artists expressed their desire for more space to showcase their work, especially in windows of vacant buildings downtown .

“Reno seems to be going through a huge art boom because they have grants or low costs on co-op space from Burning Man organizations,” said local artist Jon “Tork” Rains. “I see a lot of city owned brick-and-mortar buildings in Carson City that could be a use for artists. As a starving artist, I’m down for any space.”

“We need to use windows for different spaces downtown,” said June Joplin, owner of Comma Coffee. “These are empty spaces hungry for art.”

But if that plan should take into place, local artists also are concerned about how to increase marketing within the culture. Some of the solutions were to get more involved with local festivals and school programs. Other ideas consisted of reaching out to local news and economic outlets, and using social media.

“This is a new adventure,” said Joel Dunn, executive director of Carson City Visitors Bureau. “We want to create a sustainable funding for room tax and a funding source for the community.”

Susan Boskoff, executive director of the council, said information gathered at the meetings and an online public survey is also used to update the council’s strategic plans.

Focus groups are to be held across the state in 2016 and 2017 to gather data and ideas generated in community discussions. The public’s participation will allow the Nevada Arts Council to work with local governments and groups to set arts and cultural priorities.


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