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Oats Park Arts Center is one of Fallon’s most storied buildings, built over a century ago to serve as the Oats Park School building before being renovated as an art center. This 3,000 square foot of gallery and exhibition space plays home to a 350 seat theatre and an art bar. Here's Mayor Tedford with Executive Director Val Serpa. Mayor Tedford: Why don't you tell us a little bit about the history of the Churchill arts council, Valerie, and how you got started? Val Serpa: Churchill arts council was formed in the late 1980s by a group of people in the community who were really interested in forming an official organization that would coordinate the presentation of art events, performances, readings, visual, art, exhibitions, things like that. So we got together and made a plan to do exactly that and we were presenting all of those things in a variety of venues, from the Elks lodge to the livestock sale yard, the library, and we really enjoy doing it in those places. They were very receptive to all of that, but we decided we wanted to have a home. We wanted to have a home for the arts in Fallon. So we started looking around and investigating different possibilities and one that came to the surface really quickly was the old arts park school. It had been built in 1914, added onto in 1921 and was at the time we were looking at it completely closed boarded up, had not been a school sense for at least 10 to 15 years. Mayor Tedford: Well, I think our listeners are going to be able to tell what those of us in Fallon know that you have a passion. It comes through pretty clear Val. I'm proud of that as your friend, as you lead this. Why someone should visit? Val Serpa: It is impossible to describe without people conjuring up what they think of as an old school building. They drive up and it's got beautiful landscaping in front and it's a beautiful, huge building, very imposing as you know, and they walk in and they look at the galleries and they look at the theater and every single time they go, “I had no idea”. We have a significant permanent collection, uh, in large part because the artists who have had shows with us often have felt compelled to leave a piece with us. They'll donate some work or somebody in the community who sees a particular piece of work that thinks this should not leave Fallon. The other thing that people say to me, which is interesting, and I always react in the same way as well is from out of town. Sometimes they'll say “why is this in Fallon?” and I say “why not?” Mayor Tedford : I want to thank you Val, for coming in today. I enjoyed the conversation very much and thank you for what you do for not only the arts council, but for our community. It's very much appreciated by me and I thank you for what you do for me, for the Douglas and the city. I appreciate it. Thank you.
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