It’s Time To Build Reno as an Arts Destination

During my years working as a consultant in Ghana, West Africa, I learned about the Adinkra symbols used by the Akan tribe. One of my favorites is Sankofa, the image of a mythical bird whose body is facing forward while its head is looking backward. It means: we must look back to move forward. Like a bird, I must keep moving ahead but, every now and then, take a look back to make sure I’m on course and ensure a strong future.

Like the Akan tribe, Sankofa also is a positive message for community. It’s especially important for Reno, now that we’ve have a new mayor and two (and soon to be a third) new City Council members. For most people I’ve talked to, voting for Hillary Schieve was a vote against the status quo and the good ol’ boy system. It was a vote for a fresh mindset to keep moving the city ahead. The Reno public is the necessary institutional knowledge that will help make sure they stay on course and ensure a strong future.

I’m sure members of various civic groups already have been busy lobbying their causes. The arts community must do the same. Art Spot Reno’s message is: “Reno is poised to be a culturally vibrant city and a true arts destination. Artists bring income into our city and can improve the performance of local businesses. As an arts destination, our city will be filled with creative types and have an innovative environment that will lure more creative companies like Tesla.” I encourage everyone who loves Reno’s arts scene to deliver a similar message to city officials and letters to the editor. Make that your 30-second pitch!

In a previous blog, I wrote about a lecture delivered by Paul Baker Prindle, who is director of Sheppard Contemporary and University Galleries. He said we need to do more to create the conditions for creativity and the Department of Art and University Galleries is poised to play an integral part in helping Reno do that. Well Paul, it’s time! Let’s get busy! Let’s build a team comprised of the area’s creative minds and help develop Reno’s creative ecosystem. (P.S…Leave a message if you want to be part of this team.)

Let’s look back to move forward, Reno, and become a creative center where there will more possibilities for growth than we can imagine!

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

3 replies
  1. Paul Baker Prindle
    Paul Baker Prindle says:

    Geralda, this is a great continuation of the discussion. Thank you for keeping this going.

    I want to be part of this team too. My thinking right now is that one of the most important things we need is stronger data. Data on where we are at, what the impact of what we’re already doing is, and solid info on models used here and elsewhere to offer as examples to the partners we need in order to keep stoking the creative fire here in Reno. We’ve got some numbers, but not enough. I’ve been kicking around the idea of establishing a more formal arts economy research project through University Galleries because I think UNR needs to take leadership on this and I think we’ve got great infrastructure for this type of work.

    Additionally, I want to exploit the resources of University Galleries to help grow the skills of our existing creative class by offering more opportunities for extended learning and new skills acquisition. We can do this by offering learning opportunities through Artspace.

    Finally, I think we need to develop game plans for putting more positive pressure on our civic leadership to fully embrace Reno as an arts destination. This doesn’t have to be group think. People and organizations that work well together can join forces to do this work. Action is good and I think we can be more active in taking our council members for coffee, making phone calls, keeping them updated on what we’re doing. We need to keep the arts on our private and public sector leadership. Local arts orgs can do more to lobby business with the kind of information they need to understand the value of the creative class. If this kind of development is tough for some folks, those who are good at it need to reach out and help them get good at it.

    There’s a lot to do, but if everyone takes on one thing they’re good at and one thing they need to get better at with help, then we can get lots done. I think the most important process we need to embrace is a process that starts with dreaming and continues by taking our dreams, turning them into goals, creating action plans, realizing those goals, assessing our success, and then replicating our success.

    Let’s keep talking!

    • Geralda Miller
      Geralda Miller says:

      Thanks Paul!
      We definitely need arts analytics. I hope that’s something you can start by Fall 2015. I also like the idea of using your downtown space for extended learning.
      I look forward to seeing what the University offers.


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