New arts director leads campaign |

New arts director leads campaign

by Caryn Haller

The No.1 priority for the new Carson Valley Arts Council executive director is to raise the rest of money required to pay off the $900,000 debt on the Copeland building.

“If in the time I continue to work we can reach the goal of renovating the Copeland warehouse into a performing arts facility that would be an exclamation point in my life,” said Executive Director Stephen Farnsley.

Farnsley already had two jobs prior to accepting his third as executive director for the Carson Valley Arts Council.

Because of his love for the arts, Farnsley said he is excited to take on the challenge.

“I want people to know that experiencing the arts can be an important part of their lives,” he said. “I feel I have a certain calling to do this.”

The Minden resident serves as music director for the Carson Valley United Methodist Church and owns and operates the Carson Valley Music Academy, which provides academically-based music instruction for all ages.

“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” Farnsley said.

From 2008 until 2010, Farnsley worked as the executive director for the Tahoe Tallac Association, where he was instrumental in raising more than $70,000 in private, state and federally funded grants. He also raised funds through membership and sponsorship campaigns.

Prior to relocating to Carson Valley, he taught music at colleges and universities in Kentucky and Tennessee.

“My previous work experience was good preparation for this position,” Farnsley said. “My most important qualification is that I’m passionate about the arts. It’s more than entertainment, it’s life enrichment.”

Being hired under a one-year contract, Farnsley said another goal of his is to increase awareness in the community about what the arts council has to offer.

“We’re interested in partnering with other groups that promote the arts. We want to be a hub for the arts in Carson Valley,” he said. “It’s an investment in the community. We need to get the organization on people’s minds and keep it there.”

The Copeland building now houses the Dakota Organization, Public Access Television, Heartstrings Gallery and the Carson Valley Community Theatre box office.

Farnsley said he also plans to get involved with the schools by having the performers they bring in give presentations.

“If we’re going to have a future with the arts, we need the children to experience them,” he said. “Our message is that we contribute to the community and enhance the quality of life in Carson Valley through our programs.”

When former director Dan Piel resigned his position in September to take care of his family out-of-state, arts council board members recruited Farnsley to fill the vacancy. His $20,000 a year salary for the part-time position is contingent on grant funding through the Smallwood Foundation

“Steve is an arts-minded and community-minded individual with the experience of working with a nonprofit. He’s going to help us with our grant writing, help build our membership and volunteer base and help with our priority one, which is our capital campaign,” said Brian Fitzgerald, board president. “We’re fortunate to have him here in our community and looking forward to having him here at our helm.” Fitzgerald also thanked Suzie Stockdale for her support in securing the grant money that made the executive director position possible.

The arts council’s $900,000 capital campaign will give the organization a permanent home by paying off the loan on the old Copeland Lumber building, allowing them to renovate it into a fixed-seat theater.

When complete, there will be room for an art gallery in the foyer, a stage three times larger than the CVIC Hall, seating for 400 people, an orchestra pit, a green room and a shop area for sets and props.

“It would be a first-class performing arts center,” Farnsley said. “We see it as a place to enable the community to have a performing location. Right now, we don’t have that here.”