Golf meets art on wheels

Sierra Arts Foundation’s ‘Fore Love of Art’ brought artists, theater to the greens

PHOTO/RACHEL GATTUSO: Attendees gather in golf carts to experience one of four performances at Sierra Art's Foundation's "Fore Love of Art" fundraiser.

Imagine climbing into a golf cart, but rather than playing the course, you have an exclusive seat to view music, theater and dance performances on lush green “stages.”

On Oct. 16, 108 people, seated two to a golf cart, enjoyed four artistic shows during the Sierra Arts Foundation’s “Fore Love of Art” fundraiser at Lakeridge Golf Course in Reno. The first-time event raised more than $10,000 for local artists and art programs.

The new concept of touring an arts showcase by golf cart stemmed from difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mary Bennett, producing director of Bruka Theater, one of four groups performing for the event.

“We were looking for creative ways to put artists back to work,” Bennett said.  Performing artists and groups were among the hardest-hit by the pandemic and the economy downturn, and among the last to recover, she noted. 

A green stage and canvas

Although art shows, galleries and theaters were shuttered for a year or more, golf courses were only closed for two or three weeks, the group found.  Outdoor activities were allowed much earlier than indoor events.

Adapting stage productions to an outdoor setting spurred artists to think of innovative ways to work outside. 

“It was fun and delightful for artists to create outside their box,”  Bennett said. The setting at the lush Lakeridge Golf Course is “a paradise, incredible as a background and a canvas.”

A rolling audience

Led by a pilot cart around the golf course, attendees drove to each location to view 20-minute performances by Bruka Theater, musician Eric Anderson of The Novelists, Around the Stage dancers and a Spanish flamenco guitarist from the Milton Meros company. 

 “The shows were specialized for this event,” said Valerie Moore, Sierra Arts Foundation events manager. Bruka Theater players presented excerpts from “The Thesbian,” a physical comedy about a diva and her crew setting up a premiere.  Keely Cobb’s Around the Stage dancers performed parts of their most recent show, “Splattered.” 

The outdoor “stages” were located at various holes on the gold course. The 15th hole, at the course’s highest elevation, featured champagne, snacks and photography station where attendees were offered commemorative photos. An art sale on the driving green before, during and after the performances also raised money for the event, and spotlighted the work of some new Northern Nevada artists.

Proceeds go to artists, classes

Sierra Arts Foundation will direct proceeds to programs not funded by grants, Moore said. Some of the programs include services for artists like professional development, art classes at the Sierra Arts Academy, and healing arts and eldercare music concerts.

“A big shout-out to our sponsors, who were willing to take a chance on this first-time event,” said Moore. “Fore Love of Art” was sponsored in part by Renown, Marnell Gaming/Sparks Nugget Casino, Sierra Air and Plumas Bank. Two of the performances were individually sponsored by Wild River Grill and Lawn Express and Landscape.

“We’re thrilled our golf course can be the venue for this event supporting artists,” said TJ Duncan, vice president at Duncan Golf Management, Sierra Arts Foundation’s partner in the event.

“We’re planning on making “Fore the Love of Art” an annual event,” even after the pandemic is over and arts venues reopen, Moore said. “It sold out, the weather was nice and the comments we got from the guests were all very positive.”

PHOTO/AROUND THE STAGE DANCERS: A dancer on stage in “Splattered,” Around the Stage Dancers’ most recent show.

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