Part of Reno’s ongoing rebranding is the process of shifting tourism from gaming and casinos to art, culture and the outdoors. But if one is to admit Reno into the echelon of artistically minded cities in America — such as Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas or Oakland, California — then the community will have to come together and support the efforts to enhance the city’s local art scene.
In recent years Reno has shied away from the casinos and motels that it is known for. As a result different venues have popped up around town, and have given artists a place to be seen and heard.
However, Reno is still not up to snuff with other artsy towns and that is due to the lack of a culture that is supportive of artists. All of the big cities have institutions that support artists and help disseminate art throughout the city.
The average citizen is likely to point to establishments and organizations like The Potentialist Workshop or The Holland Project as exemplifications of Reno already being a culturally wealthy city. What is lacking however is a cohesiveness in the community that grows toward a lasting culture that supports artists in their endeavors.
An organization can only do so much for the community in the way of disseminating culture. Outside of organizing concerts and showcasing local artists, they cannot financially support local artists or promote them beyond allowing them a platform for their work. This is one of the major reasons that Reno’s local art scene is failing.
It could be that culture is a tricky thing to define and point to the origin of, but it is something that Reno is slowly working toward. What makes it harder is that art culture cannot be manufactured. An organic betterment of the local scene has to be wanted beyond convenience by community members. Some members have recently taken steps to do this.
Local art collective Cool Tapes has established a practical way to support the artist and through that, is supporting the local scene. Based around a pay-what-you-want model, the collective is for the improvement of the scene in multiple ways.
The model is directly supportive of the artist, both financially and by allowing the artist multiple points of exposure. Supporting artists in this way also leads to the pervasiveness of art in a way that places such as The Holland Project, as a single static entity, just cannot create.
Cool Tapes was founded by members of the community that wanted to have a system to contact artists and ask them to play a show whenever, so that way it would symbiotically support the artist and the music scenes prevalence. This sort of ambition is priceless when it comes to increasing the collective culture of the community.
The best thing for a member of the community to do would be to get involved with the artists, and the best way to do this, beyond forming a collective like Cool Tapes, is to financially contribute to artists whose work you enjoy. This small token would not only help create more, but also breeds an atmosphere of support and comradery that Reno is so desperately lacking.
So give a band, painter or poet a chance, and through that, give your whole city a chance to be better than it is.
The Nevada Sagebrush editorial board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.