Britt Curtis is the director of the Holland Project. Behind her is the mural that is painted onto the side of their headquarters.
By Nick Rattigan
Britt Curtis left home when she was 17 to attend the University of Washington, where she studied art and English. Today, she is the director of the Holland Project, an all-ages art and music nonprofit located in Reno.
Why did you start Holland?
I started it with a friend of mine, Joe Ferguson, who lived in Reno and ran a DIY record shop. He was pretty involved in an all-ages and punk rock community. I didn’t live here at the time, but I was working for similar project in Seattle (the Vera Project) and saw how important and wonderful and amazing that project was up there. Having been a teenager in this town, I always thought if only I had a project like this how different my life would have been growing up. It was always a goal of Joe’s to do something like this here. With the model in place from what I learned in Seattle and his energy and activism here, we were able to start and form what came to be Holland.
Why is the Holland Project important to Reno?
These sorts of projects are important nationwide, not just to Reno. But specifically to Reno because we have a reputation of being an over-21 town; also sort of a little bit of a drought geographically of art and culture and more independent alternative sources of entertainment.
Would you be able to compare the Vera Project to the Holland Project?
It is just a different scene. Seattle is so different. It has a giant music community that is a major economic force. It has a ton of independent media. It has alternative newspapers, it has independent radio station, it has college radio stations. It is just a very different supportive community. It also has a lot more money than we have here. So it is just a different ball game. But some things are very similar. I think just DIY projects in nature across the nation all have similarities and all sort of face the same struggles and obstacles. Vera took three years before even hosting their first show. They were battling legal stuff, political stuff, and noise ordinances. That is the kind of deal when you are working with teens. It is different because we are different places, but the heart and soul of what we do, and why we do it is the same.
Do you think that Holland can grow to be something like the Vera project?
Yes and no. Some aspects are already on par. Our gallery is state of the art and along the caliber of the shows we get. They are just very different in terms of funding and in terms of the music community that supports them, but you know I think we already are in some respects. And whether we get more funding or are bigger, only time will tell.
What is the goal of the Holland Project?
I have always believed in Reno. People involved in Holland inherently always have too. They are people who are super involved and are active, and believe in their community, and in fostering that sense of community of supporting each other through music and art. Whether it is small business stuff or design stuff or whatever.
Reno always goes in waves. When a bunch of new people come and are excited and new, things are starting. Then a lot of people leave again and there is a lull. No new bands and no new projects, but then all of the sudden a wave again. We started around the same time as our sister or brother organizations the Coop and the Bike Project. And now we are all 5 and 6 years old and making it happen, which is an amazing testament to this community and the people who are working for cool things. And there is a whole crop of new stuff that has surfaced in the mean time.
Is Midtown improving Reno’s culture?
It is cool to have a new neighborhood. It is probably more business and retail-oriented. More bars and restaurants, and more life, which is cool. It will be great for Good Luck McBeth, which is down there now. The midtown art walk has been good for local business. I don’t know how supportive it is for local artists, but for the businesses it is amazing. But to just have a new place for people to come and walk around and congregate is nice.
Is Reno reinventing itself?
Reno reinvents itself all the time. It always has a very specific feel and vibe. Clark hears it all the time from bands from out of town and I have friends who come and say that Reno has a very special flavor to it that is unfound anywhere else. It will always be true to itself in that way. But I do think it is always reinventing itself. There are people who are consistently surprised what cool restaurants are here, what great band they are hearing, the caliber of the artist.