Reno Is Artown Each July
This month-long festival transforms Reno into a vibrant artistic and cultural hub.
Nevada State Bank is proud to be a major sponsor of Artown, the month-long arts and culture festival that transforms Reno each July into a vibrant hub of music, painting, theater, dance, and many other forms of artistic expression. This year, Artown will feature more than 500 events produced by more than 100 organizations and businesses in nearly 100 locations citywide. Most events are free or low cost.
Although Artown has been wildly successful for the last 24 years, it had very humble beginnings. “Twenty-five years ago, downtown Reno was dying. No one was coming here. Businesses were closing and smaller casinos were shutting down,” shared Beth Macmillan, executive director of Artown. “The Arts and Cultural Commission of the Reno City Council got together with the local business community and came up with the idea of using the arts to attract people to downtown. They surveyed local residents and asked if they would come downtown for an arts festival. Although most people answered ‘no’, they decided to try it anyway. That first year – from July 8th to 28th, 1996 – 30,000 people showed up, and it’s been growing ever since.”
In 1999 Artown was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit because they needed to expand their funding sources instead of depending entirely on city financing. Today, the City of Reno is still the major sponsor, but funds also come from the City of Sparks, federal grants, state money, the University of Nevada Reno, and business sponsors like Nevada State Bank. During the recession, when business sponsorships dropped off, individual donors stepped up, showing the depth of support in the community.
“July used to be just a hot month between the Reno Rodeo in June and Hot August Nights in August. Now, it’s the most beloved month in the year,” said Macmillan. Artown, which has expanded to cover the entire month of July, draws approximately 300,000 visitors a year. About 15 percent of them come from out of town, which means approximately 45,000 people are coming to Reno to help the local economy. Macmillan noted that attendance figures are only estimates, since 75 percent of the events are free to the public and don’t require paid tickets.
In addition to local and regional talent, internationally known artists regularly perform at Artown. The list of activities, exhibitions and performances fills a large booklet and is very diverse, including cultural events like Gospel Fest, a Basque festival, and reggae and mariachi music. “It gives me great joy to break down our traditional understanding of the arts and extend our artistic reach by celebrating artistry that we may not have otherwise experienced,” said Macmillan. “Equity, diversity, and inclusion through the arts is a priority for Artown, and I wholeheartedly believe that our audiences welcome and encourage the risks we take in the arts.”
The artwork chosen for the 2019 Artown poster is an example of how different forms of art can combine to create a multi-dimensional piece. It started with a 1945 Reno-based novel by Walter van Tilburg Clark titled “The City of Trembling Leaves.” Local artists Debbie, Rachael and John-Henry Lambin carefully removed the pages of the book, and then rolled, twisted and wrapped them to create a sculpture with three figures – a musician, a ballerina and a painter – mounted in front of a Reno landscape. Each figure is about 12 inches high. Words on the pages were strategically placed within the sculpture. For example, the word “said” is coming out of one character’s mouth.
“The piece represents what Artown works to achieve each and every year: bringing the community together and presenting incredible creativity from the hands of many, for all to enjoy!”, according to the artists’ description. The sculpture was then photographed to create the poster, adding another artistic dimension. The original sculpture will be on display throughout the month of July at Nevada State Bank’s downtown Reno branch at 1 West Liberty Street.
“Nevada State Bank believes in community and has taken the lead in prioritizing the arts and making Nevada an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Macmillan. “Artown is extremely proud and honored to partner with Nevada State Bank, and we look forward to a very successful 2019 Artown Festival.”
For more information and a list of activities, please visit artown.org.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC