Certain members of this staff spend a lot of time thinking about Reno’s future. We at the Reno News & Review are not pessimists by any means, but we do fear that things in Northern Nevada are going to get worse before they get better. Our biggest fear is that one of the largest five casinos in Reno and Sparks will go dark before this region figures out what its next big thing will be. (We’re not much expecting sustained diversification of our economy, but more a continuation of the boom and bust cycle.)
At least one of us believes it will be cultural, something along the lines of Ashland, Oregon’s Shakespeare focus. Sort of like Artown, but done in a way that attracts tourists from all over the country all year, like a South by Southwest 24/7/365. An ongoing Burning Man or a Sundance Film Festival all year.
The new CEO of the Reno Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority, Mark White, recently mentioned that he’d like to return to marketing Reno’s access to the great outdoors, which we think is a fine idea, but it doesn’t quite recognize that much of the money for the RSCVA comes from casino-generated revenue, and while that has fallen off in recent years, the costs of running facilities like the Livestock Events Center and the Convention Center have not. Reno needs a “next big thing” that puts butts in hotel rooms, not tents.
In fact, in some of our feverish cogitating, we question both the RSCVA keeping ownership of those facilities—if they don’t add to the bottom line of the agency—and whether the RSCVA itself hasn’t outlived its usefulness to the community. On the other hand, maybe its primary usefulness really is management of those facilities, as opposed to marketing the region. Maybe the casinos could do a better job marketing themselves if they had that room-tax money back, or if it was used for other purposes.
But those are just thoughts, or more accurately, food for thoughts.
What would a world-class cultural event/center look like? For example, if Reno decided to have more movie screens per capita than any other place in the country, how many would it take? Would it be possible to run big-screen, rotating film festivals in all the major casinos’ showrooms, in nightclubs, in those facilities owned by the RSCVA—anywhere where the technological infrastructure and seating space exist in the same building? And would people come from around the country in droves to see all the Star Wars movies played in a row on the big screen or a Marilyn Monroe film festival or a silent movie festival? And what if they could see them all during the same weekend? How many screens would that take? How many butts would be placed in hotel rooms, and what would the ancillary cultural accoutrement look like? It seems easy to predict gourmet catering, screenwriting and film history classes, and retail souvenir sales. Because once those people are here, they’d gamble.
Anyway, we don’t want to get hung up on this one idea. But we’re willing to bet that one person out of the hundreds of thousands who live in this community has an idea for the next big thing. So what do you readers think?