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Pioneer Center seeks support from community

By ThisIsReno
Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

The stage lights at the iconic Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Reno have been off since March and the start of COVID-19 pandemic closures. And performance news from the theater has been light, save for updates on events rescheduled for 2021, when likely everyone hopes we’ll be able to return to indoor performances.

But now the non-profit arts organization, which is home to performances from the Reno Philharmonic, AVA Ballet Theater and Artown, is asking the community to consider donating to help the Pioneer Center survive.

Some history

Originally slated to open as the Apollo Theater in 1967, the Pioneer Theater-Auditorium earned its moniker from the statue of a pioneer family that stands in front of the building in the plaza along South Virginia Street, according to the Reno Historical Society.  

The distinctive gold-anodized geodesic dome is an example of mid-century Populuxe architecture and also, over time, earned the nickname “the golden turtle.” Inside the dome, the 1,500-seat theater is below ground, providing a surprisingly large space not apparent from outside the building. It’s listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Nevada State Historic Register.

Performances over more than five decades have included the popular “Broadway Comes to Reno” series (remember 2015’s “Book of Mormon” tour stop?), rock concerts, including Beck just days after downtown Reno’s infamous 1997 flooding, local dance school recitals, the Reno Instagrammys, Pioneer Center Youth Programs, Nevada Opera, and Artown events, just to name a few. Earlier this month the Pioneer hosted one of the Reno Phil’s #SpreadJoy pop-up concerts outside on its plaza.

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Pandemic impacts

According to a statement from the Pioneer, the cancellation of more than 50 performances has had a substantial impact on the theater’s revenues and the organization is facing significant financial consequences.

“As a non-profit arts organization, these devastating and unexpected losses have a tremendous and lasting financial impact on the organization, staff, and community,” the statement noted.

With no performances on the schedule this year, and large indoor arts gatherings at the tail end of reopening plans, the Pioneer is relying on donations to survive.

“Donations are more critical now than ever and will help raise the curtain when [the Pioneer’s performances] return. Until then, [donations] will provide essential resources to maintain the iconic facility, stay engaged with the community, support key Pioneer Center staff, and prepare for the moment when they can bring everyone together once again.”

For more information or to donate visit https://pioneercenter.com/Online/default.asp.

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