Former Piper’s Opera executive nominated to the board |

Former Piper’s Opera executive nominated to the board

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

The former executive director of Piper’s Opera House has been nominated for a spot on its board of directors.

Margot Memmott, an archaeologist who served for a year as Piper’s executive director, was nominated to serve on the board at Monday’s general membership meeting by board member Don Skiba, who is also chairman of the board’s restorations committee. Memmott, 31, who did her master’s thesis on the venerable opera house, is also a past board chairwoman of Piper’s.

The opera house, built in 1885, has been undergoing restoration since the late 1960s, and is owned by Piper’s Opera House Programs Inc., a nonprofit corporation.

Due to a mailing snafu that prevented some board members from being notified of the general membership meeting, the board chose to postpone elections until 7 p.m. Sept. 18. Both will be held at the opera house.

Memmott accepted her nomination somewhat reluctantly.

“I don’t want to be on a board with people who will not listen to me or who will not listen to others,” she said. But she consented to the nomination after encouragement from others in attendance.

State Historic Preservation officer Ron James said his office and the Nevada Commission on Cultural Affairs always welcome an improvement to a board.

“We do not get involved with individual management unless it affects the credibility of an agency with a grant relationship,” he said. “The downturn in the quality of a board is a point of concern. We’re not always in a position to demand or veto, but we watch.”

Skiba said the State Historic Preservation office and Division of Cultural Affairs has provided more than $3 million in grants to Piper’s Opera House over the years.

Memmott’s return to an active role in Piper’s Opera House is the latest in a series of shakeups on the board.

Board member William Beeson, who is in charge of programming, has asked not to be renominated, so he could be considered for a future position of artistic director, should the opera house find a way to fund that position. Board secretary Stephanie Brayton has resigned because she is moving.

Last June, board chairman Howard Bennett, treasurer Ron Waicul and Memmott resigned over disagreements and accusations of bookkeeping irregularities. Board member Jay Davis was removed from the board on a vote.

New prospective members include Memmott and Richard Stoll of Reno, a development professional with the Nevada Civic Light Opera.

“We need more board members,” said chairman Henry Kilmer. “We need marketing, development and fundraisers.”

He admitted that change is never pretty, and that Piper’s has had it’s share of turmoil.

“We’ve had our ups and downs,” he said. “We’re at the point that to do something different requires change. Some people don’t like change. But when we’re all done, people are going to like it.”

•Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.

If you go

WHAT: Piper’s Opera House general membership meeting and election

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sept. 18

WHERE: Piper’s Opera House, B & Union Streets, Virginia City

CALL: (775) 847-0433

Nominees for board

• Henry Kilmer –


• Malcolm Hunt – vice chairman

• Alexandra Musser –


• Dawn Neamo –


• Don Skiba – director

• Richard Stoll – director

• Margot Memmott – director