Invest in art

The Lear Theater will be the performance venue in downtown Reno everyone has been waiting for. The Lear Theater and its productions, right in the heart of Reno’s Arts District, will become a must-see attraction for our local community and tourists alike.

Audiences will have the chance to see live theater at the Lear all year round. Yet, each theater company will have its own scheduling needs. Some companies may want to schedule an entire season at the Lear. Other groups may schedule only one or two special performances each year.

The Theater Coalition’s five-year operational plan for the Lear Theater lists a cost breakdown for profit and non-profit groups and for varied usage demands. The plan designates the cost of operating the Lear each year and compares those costs with projected income sources. The Lear is like any other theater in the nation; it must augment the money earned from fees and sales with its own fund-raising efforts.

Among other efforts, the Lear will present its own performance series. The series will feature regional and national touring groups and include local productions. The Lear’s fund-raising efforts will provide assistance to local theater companies to offset their costs in renting the Lear. Right now, however, our fundraising is focused on the capital campaign for the money needed to get the Lear open, hopefully in the summer of ‘04.

Whether the performances at the Lear are a popular musical, a classic play, an avant-garde, thought-provoking presentation, a funky original piece of drama, a child’s play, a snazzy dance production, a one-woman concert or a collaboration in master classes, local artists will have the opportunity to express themselves in an intimate, magical setting that will expand the audience base for the benefit of all.

A feasibility study and surveys indicate serious demands on the use of the Lear, not just by theater companies, but by many other performing arts groups. Local theater companies need space to call their own, and I hope local businesses and city officials recognize that a live theater district in downtown Reno will be good for business. Theater space on every block along the arts corridor will provide audiences with choices for performances in venues of all sizes, all within walking distances. Can you imagine it? Cafes, restaurants, theaters, boutiques, galleries and museums, all at your fingertips. It’s time!

What can readers do to help? Contact city officials and business leaders to advocate for the completion of the Lear. Donate to the Lear’s capital campaign. Look for sponsors for smaller theater spaces. Perhaps the Riverfront Theater Company and others will have another chance like the one so generously provided by Bill Thornton at the Cal-Neva Towers. I mourn the loss of the Riverfront Theater space. Still, I know that through the innovation and tenacity of theater directors, such as Bob Barsanti, loyal theater-goers, the generosity and insight of business leaders and the assistance of Lear Theater donors, live theater in our community can be seen as something worth investing in.