Dave Maxwell
Thompson Opera House Curator Les Derkovitz is looking for volunteers to keep the place operating and to increase attendance at special events.

“To be or not to be, that is the question,” at least for the Thompson Opera House at the moment.

Les Derkovitz, who oversees the historic building in Pioche, appeared before the Lincoln County Commission board on Monday asking for help with ideas of what to do with the famed local landmark.

At present, the Thompson Opera House is one of only three 19th century opera houses still operating in Nevada. But Derkovitz says he has become concerned as of late because of dwindling attendance at special events held there.

The live performances there “started out very robust when they began in 2012,” he noted, “but after the first year dropped dramatically in attendance and now they are dead.”

Film projection equipment that the Pioche Chamber of Commerce purchased has allowed Derkovitz to start showing movies, but he admitted it is not a real theatre. The old Gem Theater is attached to the opera house, but it has been closed for some time.

He said he would like to have a regular monthly schedule to show a movie at the opera house. “We started in October and the primary promotion for it has been the Facebook page I have for the opera house and some flyers I put around town.”

But attendance for the movies dropped to only a few as well, and Derkovitz said he is “really struggling in trying to find ways to communicate with the population in northern Lincoln County.”

He was asking the board if they would look at any possible ideas for events and how to increase attendance. “I’m working in an area I am not trained in and need all the help I can get.”

Since reopening the building for use in 2012, donations have allowed Derkovitz to install a nice sound system, some nice chairs and decorate the inside a little better.

Derkovitz said for the long term, since he is the only one who knows how to run things, “we need to find another person (or more) who can what I do also, so if I’m gone, or sick, etc., the show can go on. I have struggled and struggled to find volunteers, other than myself and a friend, who will keep it open more than just a weekend, mostly just for tourists.”

He said, “We are doing neat things there, but we need to find better ways to utilize the building. We have had weddings, receptions, bridal parties, business meetings and so forth, but not nearly enough for the asset that we have to keep the building open.”

One of the Commissioners mentioned having a bingo night there, but Derkovitz thought, “The big problem would be who knows how or is willing or has the time to do it? Volunteers are not easy to come by.”