Catching up with Ely’s Centennial Fine Arts Center

April 13, 2023

The Centennial Fine Arts Center in Ely, Nevada has been an important part of the community for many years. As the building undergoes a renovation project, it continues to serve as a hub for arts and culture in White Pine County. (You can read our previous article on the Center by clicking here.)

The Centennial Fine Arts Center

Smiles before the Red Carpet event

Susan Wetmore is the president of the White Pine Community Choir Association (WPCCA), which operates the Center. She shared some updates on the progress of the restoration project. 

Wetmore explained that the organization has a new mission statement. “It used to be singing. Now it’s to preserve and restore the Centennial Fine Arts Center for the community of White Pine County,” she said. “We still sing sometimes!” she added.

The restoration project has received significant support from the community and local businesses, including a donation from Pattern Energy. “It was so heartening to get support from Pattern Energy. It was the first big donor we had, and it was like planting a seed, like a friendly pat on the back,” Wetmore said. “The value of the act alone was significant, and in many ways meant more to us than the money.”

At the Ely Film, Art and Music Festival Red Carpet event

Currently, the WPCCA is working on three different grants from two agencies; the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (SHPPO) and the EPA. SHPPO is making it possible via programs for capital improvements in rural Nevada, while the EPA Brownsfield program is partnering with the City of Ely and White Pine County. 

The EPA program is meant to assist in the removal of hazardous materials. The Center’s old roof shingles, which need to be replaced and disposed of safely, qualified for the special funding.

14 piece band from Salt Lake City entertained the crowd

The restoration work is currently focused on the building’s exterior and elevator. The interior of the building still requires work. Wetmore estimates that the entire project will take two to three years to complete.

Amidst the restoration, the Centennial Fine Arts Center recently hosted the Ely Film, Art & Music Festival’s Red Carpet event. In keeping with the event’s theme, a 1940s cocktail party, entertainment included a 14-piece band from Salt Lake City.

An overhead view of the festivities

The Centennial Fine Arts Center is a valued resource for the White Pine County community, and its restoration has garnered significant support. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the WPCCA, the future looks bright, and the Center will remain a focal point for arts and culture in Ely, Nevada.