Smalls Towns, Big Impact: Minden, NV

The Carson Valley Arts Council works to provide creative outlets and community gathering places in Minden, NV, and one of their most recent projects is the Copeland Community Arts Center, a site that could help host youth arts education programs, concerts, and festivals. Smart Growth America partnered with T-Mobile to help make this plan a reality.

Launched in 2021, T-Mobile’s Hometown Grant program is investing in the power of community-driven initiatives to ensure small towns can connect, innovate, and grow together, dedicating $25 million through 2026 to support community development projects in towns nationwide. We partnered with T-Mobile to deliver technical assistance to six of these communities. To learn more, visit
Photo of the building, currently shuttered and abandoned, where the Copeland Arts Community Center will one day stand Photo of the concept for the new Copeland Arts Community Center, a well-lit building with large open windows, alive with activity

The current site for the new Copeland Community Arts Center (on left) and a conceptual image of the finished building (on right).

Project background

Minden, Nevada sits along Interstate 395, a critical thoroughfare in the region, and is home to about 3,300 people in Carson Valley. The location brings many visitors and tourists, many traveling to or from Southern California or Lake Tahoe. Although the tourism industry is strong in Minden, improvements are needed to expand services and amenities for the people who call Minden home. The Carson Valley Arts Council (CVAC) is working to provide creative outlets and community gathering spaces in Minden by supporting local theaters, cultural centers, art galleries, and more. One of these planned projects is the Copeland Community Arts Center, located in downtown Minden, and with strong connectivity to the neighboring town of Gardnerville. The new home of the Arts Center was once a logging facility, representative of Minden’s industrial past. Originally constructed in 1908, the facility is large, with vaulted ceilings, oak trusses, and plenty of space for a performance stage and community spaces. Last year, the building was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, adding to the cultural and historic value of the space.

The Copeland Community Arts Center might stand empty, but its potential is clear. High ceilings and spacious design leave plenty of room for CVAC's biggest dreams.Financing and planning

Starting in 2004, CVAC started considering a new space for the Arts Center after a local ballot initiative failed; one that would have approved a new sales tax specifically to fund the Arts Center. In 2008, the vacant logging building was donated to CVAC. Sharon Schlegel, Director of CVAC, sprung into action and gathered local groups and supporters who wanted to see a high-quality arts and performing center in the community. This dedicated group has been committed to the project ever since and will see it through to its completion in 2024. The vision is to completely renovate the original facility and “create a climate for the arts through the presentation and promotion of cultural and educational events for the Carson Valley Youth and community and the greater Western Nevada/Lake Tahoe region.”

Since its original design, the Arts Center has been through many redesigns and revised budgets. The total cost for the project is now about $85,000, and with a $35,000 Hometown Grant from T-Mobile, a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, $20,000 in matching funds from CVAC, and $17,000 in private donations, the Center is on its way to completion. Delays in the reconstruction of the building were mainly due to COVID and design challenges. Despite these roadblocks, partnerships with local architects, schools, Douglas County and Douglas County Parks and Recreation, Main Street Gardnerville, and the Towns of Minden and Gardnerville, maintained the project’s momentum and donated time and money to ensure the project’s success. Sharon and CVAC’s Board of Directors convened about five different groups representing communities and towns in the region, including a representative from each local school district. Concurrent events and programming at CVAC’s existing buildings and facilities helped demonstrate the concept and impact to the group and to the public.

Community impacts

This project is important to Minden and the wider region for several reasons, but mainly, it will provide opportunities for youth to have access to quality arts programming. The region currently lacks a performance space large enough to host crowds or with high-quality sound production. The town hall is currently being used as the performing arts space for local students, but it does not have a sound system or permanent seating, so attendees have to use folding chairs. CVAC and the Arts Center gear much of their programming toward under-resourced segments of the community, recognizing the vital role the arts and creativity play in promoting social cohesion and interpersonal development.

The Center offers free admission to local youth and promotes youth arts education through the Youth Arts Educational Program, designed to educate, entertain, and enlighten the youth of Douglas County through interactive performing arts presentations. A concert series, work with Main Street groups to coordinate festivals, and supporting arts education in local schools are just some of the initiatives that are undertaken by CVAC, and would be supported by the renovated Arts Center. In April 2022, CVAC partnered with Arts for All Nevada, a nonprofit in Reno that focuses on providing access to arts for individuals with special needs. Additionally, CVAC conducts an annual scholarship art show that utilizes a raffle to raise funds for local students looking to pursue higher education in the arts.

“Bumps in the road are a challenge, but staying dedicated and coordinated in your approach to a project will be a surefire way to ensure project completion.” —Sharon Schegel, Director of the Carson Valley Arts Council

Aside from the benefits that the new Arts Center will provide to local schools and youth, CVAC plans to market the facility to companies looking to host conferences and events in Minden, bringing more business and tax revenue to the community. Sharon also recognized that Minden is growing, and in anticipation of growth, the city is pursuing larger spaces to accommodate more people, especially families. The Copeland Community Cultural Arts Center is scheduled to be completed in May 2024. It will host a variety of community arts events throughout the year, geared specifically toward supporting local youth and underserved communities.

We built upon our history working with rural communities by providing technical assistance to a select group of T-Mobile’s Hometown grant recipients. Read about all six communities by clicking the links below.

Land Use and Development