In the next few years, there will be major changes with two local arts venues. As we all know, the arts in the Reno area has great forward momentum, and with that momentum comes great change. Artown is offering ownership of the Lear Theater to a worthy organization and The Generator has convinced the city of Reno to give them a sweet deal to lease some unused land near Downtown.
First, let’s look at the Lear Theater.
Built in 1939 the Lear Theater operated as the First Church of Christ, Scientist, and was bought in 1998 by the Theater Coalition with a major matching donation from Moya Lear, and the building was renamed in her honor.
In 1999 the building had to be closed to the public after a year of local theater groups using the building for their productions. The reason the building was closed was that the renovations were taking longer than anticipated and the building was inadequate for public use. After sitting essentially unused for many years the building was donated to Artown with much anticipation for its eventual use. The cost of renovation has proven to be daunting as Artown is now ready to pass this historic building on the next owners in hopes that the Lear Theater will see new life and be a great addition to the Reno Arts Scene.
The original cost of the steel and stucco building was $120,000 and was fully funded by Anna Frandsen Loomis, a member of the church. That cost of the renovations to bring The Lear Theater into shape for its next life is estimated to be in excess of $5,000,000.
The past two decades have proven to be a bit bumpy for the Lear Theater indeed.
Now let’s take a look at the organizations in the running for the challenge of being the next owners of the Lear.
To be an interfaith community which combines progressive spirituality with elements of theater to produce an inclusive, inspiring experience.
Through music, meditation, live art, and engaging sermons, Alchemist Theatre aims to raise awareness, provide practical tools, and create a safe space for patrons to build a connection to a Higher Power.
A world full of conscious Alchemists actively practicing personal growth and spiritual transformation.
We are a volunteer run 501(c)3 organization created to support and organize important community events. Our focus is on activities and events that promote awareness and education.
Mercury Momentum is the producers of Reno’s Earth Day events.
Merry War Theater Group has been producing theater in Reno for several years and a few of those productions have been on the steps of the Lear Theater.
The Potentialist Workshop has been producing experimental theater as well as providing space for artists to create and show their work.
Teach the art and etiquette of the theater
Perform with some of the best community actors in Northern Nevada
Inspire a new generation”
On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the final presentations will be presented to the board in charge of choosing who will be offered the Lear Theater to bring life back into this wonderful piece of Reno’s history so that this place can make history for the years to come.
For me, personally, I would like to see the vision of a community performance venue to be honored, whoever ultimately takes on the responsibility of this historic building. The restoration will be a marathon so we all will have to be patient to see what will ultimately happen to The Lear Theater.
Now let’s look at The Generator.
The Generator opened in 2013 and has provided a place for creators to create art. The focus has been on creating large art pieces for Burning Man. Burning Man takes place just a few hours east of Spark, NV, where the Generator is currently housed in an old factory building in the industrial area. Even from the start, the Generator was searching for a new space in Reno and in 2015 they lost the fight to acquire land from the City of Reno for their dream location. Last week the city of Reno approved the first steps for The Generator to lease two unused parcels of land and the unused Wells Avenue bridge.
The land in question has been a place the homeless and houseless people have been setting up tent encampments but I went there today and could not see any tents or encampments. I find the bridge also interesting as it has been slated for demolition for the Truckee River flood plan. Part of the agreement is for The Generator to rehab that part of the Truckee River that borders their new property.
I am excited to see just what The Generator does with this new opportunity.
These are just two of the many changes we will be seeing in the next few years. I am sure that the future looks quite bright for the Lear Theater and The Generator.