Fallon’s jewel at the east end of Oats Park has been a cultural mecca for patrons not in the Lahontan Valley but also for music and art aficionados from all over the West Coast.
Members of the Fallon Chamber of Commerce spent their October lunch meeting at the Oats Park Arts Center, which is housed in the preserved building formerly known by its namesake of Oats Park School.
Michael Scott, who has been affiliated with the local arts scene for years, became executive director of Churchill Arts Council after the death of its founder, Valerie Serpa. She and Donald Sefton, Systems Consults, died in a small airplane accident after takeoff from the Medford, Oregon, airport on Dec. 5.
Scott has ensured “The Show Must Go on” at the Oats Park Arts Center. Scott previously served as the creative director for the past five years and helped Serpa operate the arts council after her husband’s (Kirk Robertson) fatal stroke in April 2016.
Prior to beginning his overview of the arts center and theater, Scott asked how many chamber members have never visited the building or attended a performance. Upward to 60 people raised their hands, a number that surprised Scott. The Oats Park School, which was built in 1914 and designed by Reno architect Frederick DeLongchamps, emerged as a centerpiece for the arts in rural Nevada. As Serpa and Robertson looked around the Fallon area for a venue suitable for bringing class acts to the area, Scott said the school stood out as the perfect location.
Serpa and Robertson, according to a previous newspaper article in the Lahontan Valley News, became synonymous with the Churchill Arts Council. They both had a dream that formulated the arts into one of the most recognizable programs in the West.
Scott said Serpa had a vision in 1986 that the school could be an arts center. Meanwhile, the appetite for experiencing the arts and shows was related to local locations such as the Elks, Lodge or the Fallon Convention Center.
“It was anywhere we could find a venue,” Scott said. “Everyone in the community was brainstorming.”
Members of the Fallon Chamber of Commerce recently visited the Oats Park Arts Center.
Steve Ranson / LVN
Through the huge support of many people and grant-writing efforts, the dream for an arts center began to form and develop.
“This space was a great candidate for the Churchill Arts Council,” Scott explained. "This building started to be remodeled. Not until 2003 was Barkley Theater finished.”
On Feb. 14, 2003, the theater’s doors opened for its concert, after Scott said “the arts center took a lot of time and work.”
The work continued and by 2006, the main floor transformed itself into an area with arts galleries. Scott said the theater and galleries became a showcase for both residents and visitors. Today, the downstairs houses the art school, offices and a commercial kitchen. On the southside of the arts center is the Lariat Courtyard.
Serpa and Robertson began to book entertainment for the center. Scott said the concept was for local audiences to see musicians who brought a diversity of music to Fallon.
“It was a chance to see real America interact with the artist,” Scott said.
In a previous edition of the LVN, “The arts council raised $10 million to transform the school from a crumbling relic into a state-of-the-art facility with three aft galleries, a 350-seat theater and an Old West-meets-urban-café-style bar — still a popular gathering place before and after performances.”
Michael Scott, second from right, is the Churchill Arts Centers executive direct. He recently welcomed members from the Fallon Chamber of Commerce who learned more about the theater and programs.
Steve Ranson / LVN
Perla Batalla – Nov. 5, 2022
Rudresh Mahanthappa – Feb. 11, 2023
Laney Lou & the Bird Dogs – March 11, 2023 Eilen Jewell – April 15, 2023
Paul Thorn – June 17, 2023
Free In-the-Park Concert
Lee Saloutos & Tawni Shuler – Aug. 13 – Nov. 12.
Holiday Art Bar Reception: Dec. 3.
Emily Najera & Michelle Laxalt – March 11 - June 17, 2023 Artists’ Talk & Reception: May 6, 2023
Michael P. Branch – Feb. 25, 2023
Spring Film Series: In the City
Amélie – March 17, 2023
Lost in Translation – March 24, 2023
La La Land – March 31, 2023
Green Goddess Market & Seedling Sale – May 13, 2023