About The Lear


Urban legend tells us that when Moya Lear’s long time friend Edda Morrison leaned over in church and whispered “Wouldn’t this make a great theater?”, the long-time patron of the arts and wife of aviation innovator Bill Lear, agreed wholeheartedly.

Moya Lear envisioned a community space that could host anything from a children’s dance recital to a world-renowned string quartet. In 1997 she worked to make that vision a reality by pledging $1.1 million to the project with the caveat that it be matched by the community. $1.3 million was raised and matched and The Lear was purchased in 1998.

The Theater Coalition managed the theater and its various iterations of renovations until 2011. During 2001 and 2002 it was briefly opened as a functioning theater, with several shows staged. Renovations however were never completed and the theater has been closed since 2002.

In December 2011 ownership of the building was transferred to Artown. Designed by the illustrious Paul Revere Williams, the theater’s size, historical elegance and location make it ideal as a community theater. The building is conveniently situated adjacent to the Truckee River and in the heart of the rapidly developing arts and culture district in downtown Reno. In recent years, a sculpture garden as well as several significant Burning Man Installations have been curated around and adjacent to the property, reinforcing its culturally significant positioning.


The current Board of Directors of Artown has been working diligently behind the scenes with local architects and engineers, to ascertain structural integrity along with viable options for completion of the project. A feasibility study has been conducted and grant fulfilment requirements determined. Thank you to Mercedes de la Garza and The Don Clark Group for partnering with us on some of these efforts.

After recent instances of vandalism and trespass, and in order to address the ongoing problem of damage to the building and grounds, the Artown Board made the decision to temporarily fence off The Lear Theatre to protect it. When it is safe for the building, this fencing will be removed. Thank you for your understanding – the preservation of The Lear Theatre is important to us all.

During the spring of 2017, various Board members, including Councilwomen Naomi Duerr, met with The Arts and Culture Commission, The Reno Arts Consortium and The Reno Historical Resources Commission to hear their input on the future of The Lear.
Now it is your turn.

Next steps:

We invite you  to join us at our upcoming “Lear Possibilities Workshop” on October 24 @ 5:30pm at the Joe Crowley Student Union – to share ideas for the future of the building.
We invite you to think creatively.
We invite you to think positively.
We invite you to think outside the box.

Please check back here and on our Facebook page for updates.

Tour the Lear:

A limited number public tours are being held prior to the workshop, for interested parties:
Friday October 13 @ 3:00 – 4:00
Sunday October 15 @11:00 – 12:00
Tuesday October 17 @12:00 – 1:00

Please check our Facebook Events for details. RSVP is essential as numbers will be limited. A signed indemnity waiver is required – download here.