Eugene Paslov: The economic power of the performing arts

"If you build it they will come!" As we think about how to revitalize our local economy, we should capitalize on our strengths. Carson City has a performing arts community that is characterized by excellence - for example, the Brewery Arts Center ( John Procaccini, executive director). We also have children's theater (Backstage Kids, director Andie Anderson); we have outstanding musical theater at Western Nevada College under the leadership of Stephanie Arrigotti; and we have Karen Chandler, artistic director of the Arts Center Performing Arts Collaborative (BACPAC - a professional theater program) - all of whom have made outstanding contributions to the performing arts in Carson City.

Chandler is a longtime drama teacher at Carson High School. In addition to her teaching, directing, producing and acting, she has helped many young men and women find their life's work in theater and related technical fields. Chandler is a moving force in the Carson City theater community. Along with the Arrigotti family, she has touched the lives of many of our most talented citizens.

Silver State Charter High School recently started an improvisational drama program under the direction of Christiana Frank and Joseph Paslov, both of whom have considerable professional, community theater experience. Frank's "Kidscape Productions" is designed to help young people improve learning skills through concentration and direction. Silver State also has a new drama teacher, Abby Gardner. In addition to teaching drama, she works with another Silver State faculty member, Brett Caron, on video and audio lighting production, helping students develop future careers.

Let's cultivate our local talent into a professional theater community that would be an economic asset. There is a deep thirst for excellence in the performing arts. Ashland, Ore., has such a program. There is no reason why we can't do the same here.

Let's invest in state-of-the-art performance centers. The Brewery Arts Center is growing, but it is limited. New performing arts centers (currently being discussed) should accommodate professional theater, dance and music for different-sized audiences.

We might consider establishing a world-class performance arts charter high school (with rigorous academic standards) and emphasize career opportunities for our most talented young people. Western Nevada College might expand its performing arts program as well. A friend of mine (when I mentioned this idea to him) also suggested establishing a world-class mathematics and science charter high school. Indeed, there is always room for excellence.

We need to be bold; we need to establish a vision, and support performing arts facilities and professional performers to create a new industry in Carson City. It will take time and resources, but it can be done.

• Dr. Eugene T. Paslov, former Nevada superintendent of schools, is a board member for Silver State Charter High School in Carson City.


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