Happy 55th Birthday, Pioneer Center!

Dennyse Sewell

This opinion column was submitted by Dennyse Sewell, executive director of the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts.

If you’ve lived here for a while, you’ve probably noticed the gleaming golden dome in the heart of downtown. You may have attended events inside or even performed on the main stage yourself. The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is a Reno landmark and an iconic piece of our region’s identity. On January 7, 2023, the Pioneer Center celebrated 55 years of art in downtown Reno – a legacy of which we are proud.

Much like today, Reno experienced tremendous growth and change in the 1960s. Our tourism industry was thriving and our population was increasing rapidly. In response, regional leaders planned a new facility in the heart of downtown to host both performing arts events and conventions. Structures to create places popped up in cities across the country, from the Space Needle in Seattle to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and our founders envisioned a futuristic landmark of their own. They opted for a unique, subterranean building design topped by a gold anodized geodesic dome resting on an expansive forecourt. The Pioneer Theater-Auditorium, built on the former site of the Nevada State Building, opened on January 7, 1968 and has been an anchor of northern Nevada’s vibrant arts and culture scene ever since.