Eugene T. Paslov: The power of the arts to grow our community

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I recently attended a supervisors' candidate forum, sponsored by the Carson City Arts Coalition. The candidates were asked a series of questions about the arts in Carson City and what they would do to grow the role of the arts in the economic life of our city.

The moderator, Peter Barton, did an excellent job of keeping the speakers on task and on time. The candidates grappled with responses. Day Williams, a local attorney, told us he had just completed a performance of the very successful Western Nevada Musical Theater (WNMT) performance of the "Sound of Music." (The performance was, indeed, outstanding.) Williams also noted he was a poet and author. Unfortunately, being an artist is not necessarily a qualification for being a city supervisor.

All of the candidates outlined their support of the arts. Most included reference to art forms that played a role in their lives or the lives of their families, from woodworking and theater to dance and music. It was impressive.

When discussing the Nugget project, most were cautious. Some punted - turn it over to taxpayers and let them decide. And one, Paul Saucedo, simply implied libraries were superfluous. Today, he suggested, all one needs is a cell phone to acquire needed information - breathtakingly illogical.

While most candidates were excellent, my personal favorite was Karen Abowd, a successful local businesswoman. She was well prepared, thoughtful, creative and articulate. She has a vision for a future, a vibrant downtown area that would support and encourage economic growth. We need thoughtful representatives to help us grow and prosper.

If we take Abowd's idea a bit further and envision performing arts as a major new industry, it is not much of a stretch to see this concept as a component of the proposed business incubation center. The new business would need a business plan. The development of a Carson City/Lake Tahoe professional performing arts festival can eventually become a vital new industry. Other businesses would flourish. We may also be able to create a performing arts charter high school to help stimulate the talent pool.

As a first step, the Arts Coalition should become a non-profit and begin the process of seeking planning grants from government and philanthropic sources. This area has a rich supply of creative talent. And it's a magnificent location to draw in patrons from around the world. We need to make the performing arts a profitable business and put our talent to work as an economic asset.

"If you build it they will come" has a truly profound meaning in the context of the performing arts.

• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.


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