Celebrating Tim Jones, Reno’s dedicated arts advocate

I had the pleasure of first meeting Tim Jones on March 25, 2013. I was writing a big story on arts advocacy and the attempt, led by Jones, as president of the Nevada Arts Council board, to persuade state legislature to restore funding to the agency, whose mission it is to ensure state and national funds support cultural activities and encourage participation in the arts throughout Nevada.

Over a two-hour coffee at Homage Bakery, he and Nettie Oliverio impressed me with their dedication and passion for the arts. They were a great team. Nettie was the lighthearted, but informative one; while Tim was stern and on point. Four days later, I lost that job and the story never was published. For some reason, I kept those transcribed notes. What he had to say about the arts was too important to delete from my hard drive.

On Sept. 28, Tim passed away and Reno (as well as the state) lost one of its esteemed arts champions. I reviewed those old notes and want to share a few of his quotes. Reading them, I immediately heard his soothing, calming voice, one that people listened to and respected. I sincerely hope we cherish and carry on his objectives. And may his memory be for a blessing.

Here are excerpts from my March 25, 2013 interview with Tim Jones:

“The arts helped people living in Reno to rediscover their own city.”

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“Part of the work that we do is constantly reminding people of the role arts and culture in our city, in our state and in our country. As far as Reno goes, I like to remind people that so much of what has happened in our city, growth wise, started with a single arts festival in 1996 that was called “Uptown Downtown Artown.” That has evolved into Artown. But everything that we have seen in our downtown development, especially along the arts and culture corridor and now spreading into other neighborhoods, started with an arts festival. And it spawned everything, from business development to the kayak whitewater park to residential condos, business investment spreading through to Midtown. People took note of what happened in 1996 and the subsequent years and invested heavily in our downtown area and improved the quality of life for everyone.”

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When we talk before the Reno City Council, certainly when we talk before other lawmakers and people who make decisions, we like to stress what the arts do for communities. We help the economy, because when the arts move in and become part of the quality of life, business takes note and they invest in the community.

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It’s important for everyone to always remind each other and elected officials about the power of the arts to make sure this growth is sustained.

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A state composed of cities, communities — whether urban or rural — rich in the arts benefits everybody. It happens every single day of the year.

1 reply
  1. Nettie Oliverio
    Nettie Oliverio says:

    Geralda, bless you for your writer’s/reporter’s dedication to telling the story with all its depth and nuances. As I read the excerpts you shared here, I could hear Tim’s voice saying those words and I transported back to our time together at Homage. In your position as Arts & Culture reporter for the RGJ you always asked the questions that quickly moved past the 30-second elevator speech we all have to have. Normally that’s all the sound bite a reporter listens to (and, acknowledging all that barrages reporters, all they have time for), but you probed and questioned. How did we get here? The Arts have been building a safe and enticing haven for tourists, regional citizens and businesses in Reno’s core over the past two decades. Communities throughout our state have significantly rich artistic heritages that draw cultural tourists to visit Nevada, nationally and internationally. Given that any savvy investor would continue to favor high performing business segments, you questioned why the State of Nevada at that time was positioned to continue to defund the arts. Not just status quo, but actually further reducing funding. You asked Tim for his insights into why – why starve, if not kill, the Golden Goose – and he answered.

    Thankfully Nevada’s overall economy has turned around and a small amount of funding for the arts was actually in Governor Sandoval’s original budget this legislative session. As you’d be the first to say, lots of folks pull the wagon to make it move and having the arts included in the Governor’s offered budget didn’t happen because of any singular person, but Tim’s leadership played a huge part. The wagon is indeed moving and can’t stop. Members of the Reno Arts Consortium were quick to say, as the word of Tim’s passing circulated, that we MUST continue the advocacy work that was his later life’s work and his legacy to us. Thank you, Geralda, for reminding us!

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