Gina Lopez Hill: Bringing Back the Arts
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS PROFILE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN OUR SISTER PUBLICATION, LA PRENSA NEVADA
By Mario A. Cortez
As director of the Brewery Arts Center, Gina Lopez Hill leads Carson City’s efforts to provide access to the arts, cultural enrichment, and first-class entertainment for everyone.
A Carson City native, Lopez Hill has been involved in the arts, especially dance, from a young age.
“My first involvement with the arts was with ballet folklorico,” Lopez Hill shared with La Prensa Nevada. “I worked at a Mexican restaurant here in Carson City that had a floor show, so I danced traditional Mexican dances every week.”
Since then, dance and related activities have been an important part of her life. Lopez Hill even performed at the Brewery Arts Center a number of times in her youth.
Lopez Hill made a career out of her passion for her craft, earning a degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and becoming a professional dancer, and also landing several acting jobs during her time as a performer.
“I was mostly doing Broadway-style reviews and some magic shows because I was in Vegas for a while, and we also took a lot of shows on the road with our company,” she shared. “At one point we did a six-month tour in Korea, did a year in Japan, and spent a lot of time in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles doing performances.”
After years as a performer, Lopez Hill returned to Carson City.
Upon settling back, she saw that the Brewery Arts Center was no longer a vibrant place like she remembered.
“I returned to Carson as an adult and the Center wasn’t anything near what it was back when I would perform there,” she said. “So restoring the Center was one of my goals, Carson deserved to have an exciting arts organization again.”
During her first six months back in Carson City, Lopez Hill volunteered alongside a large group of locals who wanted to bring life back to the city’s premier cultural institution.
When Lopez Hill joined the Center’s board of directors, she saw the issues facing the nonprofit.
“Back then, the organization was in big trouble,” she explained. “Financially, the Center was six figures in the hole with money due immediately to artists, but we got that situation turned around.”
Today, under her administration, the Brewery Arts Center has become a place for anyone to experience arts, culture, and the best in entertainment.
The two-block complex is home to a wide array of organizations. clubs and activities, including a children’s theatre company, a classic cinema club, pottery and arts classes, and many more. These activities are hosted at two of the city’s oldest buildings and are free to the public.
“There is no barrier to participate in our activities and enjoy first-class entertainment,” she mentioned.
The complex was also host to TEDx Carson City, an independently organized series of conferences focused on community innovation and sharing ideas for the future.
With so many activities, the halls of the Brewery Arts Center are always bustling with people, be it senior citizens in the morning, kids in the after-school hours, or families in the evening.
“We have classes and activities for everybody here, from the cradle to the grave,” she said.
A major draw to the Center for the last couple of years has been the outdoor summer concert series.
“For the third year in a row, we have won the Levitt Amp Award, which allows us to have free concerts outdoors for 10 weeks at our amphitheater stage,” Lopez Hill shared.
With the matching grants of up to $25,000 provided by the Levitt Amp Award, the center has brought nationally recognized acts such as swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Latin rock-fusion band La Misa Negra to its open-air stage on Minnesota Street.
“In the past, the Center had become a dormant place during the summer, but we now have made summer the liveliest part of the year with the free concert series,” Lopez Hill exclaimed.
With so much experience under her belt and many accomplishments at the helm of the center, Lopez Hill takes her present role as executive director of the Brewery Arts Center very seriously, and sees it as an important piece of the development of Carson City as a whole.
“Our city will not thrive without a vibrant arts and culture aspect because nobody will want to move or raise a family here unless there is a wonderful arts community represented,” Lopez hill said. “I take my job very seriously.”
“There is a thriving arts community in Carson City and we are happy to be a big part of it,” she closed.