Artown 25th Anniversary



127 + artists and organizations will present over 300 modified virtual and live events at locations throughout Washoe County, with Artown rolling out “Heartown” an ambitious campaign to bring art to the people. 

(May 12, 2020 Reno, NV) In light of the impact of the pandemic on event programming, Artown, the annual 31-day festival of the arts held each year in Reno, Nevada, is making the pivot needed to reach and engage audiences in new and creative ways. Though Artown has postponed its ticketed events and Monday Night Music Series at the Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater at Bartley Ranch until 2021, and postponed all of this year’s Wingfield Park  Amphitheater programming until next year, the non-profit arts organization–which started in 1996–is planning a festival that will bring the entire community together. Artown Executive Director Beth Macmillan states, “Our community’s resilience and creativity will be on full display this year, restoring hope and reviving the spirits of so many.”

Regional artists and organizations who plan, produce and present arts events, exhibits, installations, tours, performances and displays–make up 90% of Artown’s 500+ events each year, and are both the mainstay and backbone of the festival, now in its 25th anniversary season. While all presenters are making the necessary adjustments to present their events safely, in strict adherence to Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s Covid-19 Phase 1 reopening protocols, the fact that Artown is happening at all, is welcome news to presenters who spend months planning, creating and fundraising for their Artown events each year.

Last week on Wednesday, May 6, at the first of several weekly virtual presenters meetings scheduled during the runup to the popular July summer festival, Artown hosted 81 artists and organizations on their Zoom conference. The presenters were convened for the task of adapting their Artown events to the realities, challenges and safety protocols required to mediate community spread of the virus. The outpouring of enthusiasm from these artists was heartfelt. Many, like Christina Osloond, the Project Director for Extravaganza at the Plaza (July 25), expressed both joy and appreciation for the opportunity to hold their events. “As creative as artists are, Artown is finding ways to comply [with safety protocols] and move forward, giving hope to an otherwise hopeless situation for artists.”

For those artists choosing to go virtual with their presentations, Artown will support the events by providing links on its various social media platforms (like You Tube and Facebook) to their streaming events and webinars. Artown’s Livestream Sessions (facilitated by LoadedTV.com), will capture scores of live community events happening citywide and broadcast them via Facebook Live, to be later archived on Artown’s You Tube channel. Artown is making it as easy as possible for local and national media to access content, both live and archival, by providing live RMTP feeds for any broadcast and livestream.

Artown’s Discover the Arts Series, geared toward children ages 6-12, will also go virtual, featuring 21 artists and educators teaching art classes and doing performances of their specific art, in webinars ranging from discovering augmented reality to discovering hula.

Other notable highlights confirmed for Artown 2020 include: the 5th Annual Reno Chalk Art & Music Festival July 10-12 at The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa; Day of Visual Arts Weekend also happening July 10-12, and the Midtown Burning Man Parade, July 30, presented by Jessica Schneider of Junkee Clothing Exchange.

Artown’s Opening Night on July 1 will be a virtual spectacle of sight, song, dance, and sound, featuring Artown’s recently postponed national and international artists, who are creating short performance videos specifically for Artown–each with a personal message to the Artown audiences. Sinclair Broadcast Group (KRNV NBC Reno, Mornings on Fox 11 News and Nevada Sports Net) will air and stream Artown’s Opening Night on their various network and digital broadcast platforms.

Perhaps the most exciting element of Artown 2020, is a campaign that is powered by the people. This year, in place of Artown’s large summer festival gatherings, thepeople are the headliners, as Artown becomes “Heartown,” a citywide campaign in celebration of the essential role art plays in our hearts, in our lives and in our communities.

“Artown is asking EVERYONE to ‘show us your heart through your art,’” beams Macmillan. Families are being asked to do “Heartown” art projects by crafting expressions and symbols of love at home, at their businesses, and with their coworkers–with whatever supplies they already have around the house or at work—to share with the world. “Everything from drawings, paintings, yard art and sidewalk chalk, to sculptures, ornamental displays on balconies, decorative signs, and garden designs–any expression of art that comes from your heart is welcome. Because now, more than ever, the power of art can inspire and uplift us all,” Macmillan emphasizes.

Macmillan hopes to capture the imagination of northern Nevada and beyond with the “Heartown” campaign’s artistic mission of spreading expressions of love and creativity, in the same way families display Christmas lights, decorations and festive scenes during the holidays.

As part of the community outreach for the “Heartown” campaign, Artown staff and volunteers are collecting and distributing art supplies for underserved communities, children’s programs, non-profits, and family-focused organizations to ensure multicultural participation in the regional effort.

Once underway, Artown is asking participants to send in short videos and photo stills of their “Heartown” art to office@artown.org. The non-profit will then display these community creations on social media, on the Artown website and through their various media platforms and partnerships. The most noteworthy entries will be awarded Artown prizes and collectible 25th Anniversary Artown merchandise.

About Artown

Now in its 25th festival season, Artown is a non-profit Nevada corporation whose mission is to inspire community through the arts. Each year the festival hosts 300,000+ attendees at over 100 venues, set against the back drop of northern Nevada’s beautiful Washoe County basin, which features high desert landscapes, green forests, snow-capped mountains, the Truckee River and Carson River, Pyramid Lake and the glistening jewel of the region, Lake Tahoe.

Artown is supported, in part, by the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency and the state of Nevada. Artown is made possible through the generous support of its sponsors, Nevada State Bank,