Nevada Art Conference

Courtesy photo – Sarah Lillegard and Maria Sykes at Nevada Arts Council’s Arts @ the Heart Convening opening reception in Reno.

This year’s Arts @ the Heart Convening, Brave New Communities, presented by thea Nevada Arts Council, gathered teams from communities large and small to explore the role of arts in supporting a vibrant, healthy and equitable Nevada. The convening was held June 9 at the Nevada Automobile Museum and June 10 at the Siena Hotel.

“We were thrilled to see so many of Nevada’s leaders join forces and brainstorm innovative ways to engage the arts in our communities,” explains Amy Spencer, Community Arts Development Program Coordinator.”

An exceptional group of 70 Nevadans from over 20 communities attended the events. Participants, who represented local arts and community organizations, economic development agencies, libraries, municipalities and small businesses, traveled from every corner of the state to connect and champion a vision that invests in people and the places they live. Leading arts engagement and community development professionals facilitated workshops with attendees that sparked dialogue, innovative ideas, and partnerships sure to flourish in coming months. During formal sessions, and in the hallways, collaborative projects were literally coming to life—within regions, across towns, and throughout the state. A collective understanding emerged as participants explored critical challenges through the lens of the arts, and witnessed the potential for community vitality and innovation.

Keynote speakers Maria Sykes and Sarah Lillegard presented A Conversation on Building Creative Community. Sykes is a co-founder and principal of Arts and Culture at Epicenter, an award-winning design-based nonprofit organization in Green River, Utah, a rural desert town of only 952 people. In addition to directing Epicenter’s ongoing arts and design programming such as the Frontier Fellowship, an artist residency with Epicenter, she presents place-specific and socially-engaged work and consults on rural projects internationally. Lillegard is a mixed-media artist and gallery coordinator at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village. She co-founded the Go For Broke Zine Collective and managed the Holland Project Gallery in Reno. Lillegard was awarded the Epicenter Frontier Fellowship in 2015. She received a Bachelor of Art degree from Walla Walla University in 2007.

Mineral County was represented by Béa Whitney, visual fine artist and University of Nevada, Reno art education student; Cynthia Oceguera, Mineral County Economic Development Board, Walker River Paiute Tribe; and, Shelley Hartmann, executive director of Mineral County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA). Also attending was Dana Lee Fruend of Carson City, a marketing consultant for MCEDA. Other rural towns represented were Eureka, Mesquite, Moapa Valley, Tonopah, Tuscarora and Yerington.

“We found that rural towns and tribes in Nevada share many of the same issues where the arts are concerned. The synergy was palpable. We are eager to communicate and collaborate with our new rural partners to strengthen the arts in our respective communities and beyond,” says Whitney.

Sykes is visiting Reno in early January 2017. Whitney has invited her to speak in Hawthorne and visit buildings in Mineral County that are listed on the National Historic Register. Of particular interest to the renowned architect is the 6th Street School, one of the few remaining examples of early twentieth century Art Deco architecture in Nevada.