Burning Man announced on April 10 that its main event, scheduled for Aug. 30 – Sept. 7, is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. “At this point the likelihood of 80,000 people being able to gather safely this summer is extremely low,” organizers said in a statement.

The statement anticipates “substantial staff layoffs, pay reductions, and other belt-tightening measures.” The organization has requested that ticketholders donate the price of their tickets, but administrators are in the process of setting up a system to process requests for refunds.

The statement contains a mention of a virtual event: “We look forward to welcoming you to Virtual Black Rock City 2020. We’re not sure how it’s going to come out; it will likely be messy and awkward with mistakes. It will also likely be engaging, connective, and fun.” So far, Virtual Black Rock City 2020 consists of a questionnaire soliciting suggestions for what a virtual Burn might involve.

Burning Man is among countless organizations, national and local, that have canceled or postponed events due to the pandemic. Reno arts administrator Maria Partridge fielded a call to talk about some of the Reno art community’s changing plans. Partridge is the curator at Sierra Arts Gallery, a project manager for Burning Man’s art department, executive director of Artech, and part of the team that brought the Playa Art Park to downtown Reno.

Now that her summer calendar is no longer filled with Burning Man art management commitments, Partridge said, “I’ve been thinking more about how to support artists through Artech and Sierra Arts.”

Sierra Arts Gallery deadline pushed back 

At Sierra Arts’ downtown gallery, the April and May exhibitions have been postponed until 2021. The deadline for the rest of the 2021 exhibition season has been extended to late April, and it may be extended again. While the gallery usually hosts a mix of solo and group shows, Partridge said that once the venue re-opens, she wants to emphasize groups shows in particular, in order to get more artists’ work in the public eye. Apply here.

A move-out notice for Playa Art Park

When the Playa Art Park opened in 2016 on a borrowed lot across from Circus Circus on Virginia Street, organizers knew that its lifespan would rely on real estate prices. According to Partridge, the lot was recently purchased for development. She said that she was initially given until May 1 to remove the sculptures from the property. Because of lockdowns and social distancing requirements, the current expected move-out date is not clear. Partridge anticipates storing the sculptures at Artech until they can be returned to the artists.

Sculptures from Reno’s Playa Art Park are slated to be returned to the artists. The Joe C. Rock mural will likely be demolished. Photo: Kris Vagner

Artech hopes to offer classes

Artech, the West Reno warehouse artspace, had been planning a March open house for artists who would like to begin teaching classes there. The March event was canceled, but Partridge said she hopes that it can be rescheduled. She noted that many artists would likely welcome side income from teaching, and that seeking funding to subsidize classes may be a possibility.

Reno Art Fest canceled, new venue on hold

An outdoor event space at the Sands called Sands Connect was slated to start construction on March 1, and the Reno Art Fest, hosted by Artech, was scheduled to be the venue’s first event June 5-7.

Chris Mazanec, a representative from Jacobs Entertainment, the developer that purchased the Sands in 2017, said in an email that by March, permitting had been completed for the venue, but the company decided to hold off on starting construction.

Reno Art Fest, which already had close to 50 artists registered, along with plans for a fire dance festival and an art car gathering, is on hold until 2021.

For more information on the above dates and changes, choose the address that best matches your query, and contact Maria Partridge: artechreno@gmail.com, maria@sierraarts.org, maria@burningman.org.

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Posted by Kris Vagner

Kris Vagner is Double Scoop’s editor in chief. In former lives she was a literature student in Arizona, an art student in Boston and Los Angeles, an artist, gallery owner, art teacher, and Arts Editor for the Reno News & Review. She’s been writing about Nevada art and culture since 2004.

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