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Musician Silhouette

Partnership For The Performing Arts

Our Founder Nick Rail


Music is a gift to be shared

“The performing arts prepare students for success. Students learn to share and express their feelings. They build skills, confidence, and perseverance, and they learn to collaborate with partners from diverse backgrounds.”  – Nick Rail

Nick Rail’s parents bought a cornet that led to a lifetime love of music and a string of six music stores

Nick Rail’s life changed forever in the fall of 1959. At Redwood Elementary School in remote Del Norte County, California, school band was offered for the very first time and somehow, Nick’s parents found the money to buy a cornet so he could join. In band, Nick found a sense of purpose, an identity, a feeling of “I belong.” His love of music led to a successful 47-year career in music retail, providing instruments to schools and families across southern California.


Through his business, Nick had seen hundreds of schools with outstanding performance facilities, something still lacking where he grew up. The disparity was upsetting, so when he sold his business, Nick and his wife, Lisa, pledged the entire proceeds to end this inequity.


With other community leaders, Nick formed the Partnership for the Performing Arts (PPA) to build the Del Norte Center for the Performing Arts. With land donated by the school district, this facility will increase learning opportunities for students, celebrate the region’s unique cultural heritage, and establish a home for civic, performance, and educational gatherings.


Read more: The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) highlighted Nick's Philanthropy

Updated August 2023

PPA Board of Directors

Nick Rail

Nick is a Del Norte HS graduate, founding director of PPA, and the former owner of Nick Rail Music, a successful chain of music stores specializing in service to school music programs.

Sarah Valley

Sarah is a graduate of Del Norte HS and the University of Utah. She purchased the Dance Art Studio in Crescent City in 1978 and is still the owner and director.

Diana Clark

Diana served as an elementary school teacher in Del Norte County for 30 years. She and her husband, a laboratory technologist, have been active with numerous local performing arts organizations over several decades. Both of their children are graduates of Del Norte HS, and their daughter is currently the school’s dance teacher.

Richard Holley

Rick's background includes a degree in Social Work and a career as a Probation Officer, as well as other related positions including Director of a local non-profit agency and 20 years as the Human Services Director for Del Norte Schools. He served on the City Council and was selected to serve one term as Mayor of Crescent City.

Sonia Gray

Sonia has over 30 years experience as a business leader, including owning and partnering in nonprofit administration and technology consultancy practices. Growing up in Southern Oregon, she has volunteered extensively with organizations in the region. A professional accountant, she holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees (MBA) in Business Administration. Additionally, she is certified in several software applications. Sonia has been a guest speaker to numerous industry groups on business strategy, technology, leadership, and growth.

Candace Tinkler

Candace served more than 35 years in the US National Park Service, working at seven national parks, and holding the position of Chief of Interpretation and Education for Redwood National and State Parks. She is also a musician who plays with local ensembles and has been on the board of the Wild Rivers Symphony for over ten years. Recently retired, Candace is focusing on her passions for supporting education and creating strong, vibrant communities.

John W. Pritchett

John is the general manager of Del Norte Ambulance and previously worked as the editor of The Daily Triplicate for more than eight years. He is a past president and current member of the Del Norte County Fair Board of Directors, and a two-time president of the Crescent City Rotary Club. John is also the play-by-play voice of the Del Norte High Warrior athletics on KPOD FM.

Abbie Crist

Abbie was educated in Del Norte County schools from kindergarten through high school, then studied at UC Davis. During her school and college years, she enjoyed dancing with various performance groups and choreographing Lighthouse Repertory Theatre productions. She subsequently enrolled in law school and spent 33 years practicing law in Los Angeles before she and her husband retired to Crescent City in 2019.

Marshall Jones

A Del Norte HS graduate, Marshall is a 30-year educator in Del Norte County and founding member of Lighthouse Repertory Theatre.

Christie Lynn Rust

Christie Lynn served for 30 years as vocal and instrumental music director at Del Norte HS. She created the non-profit Pacific Music Guild, through which she directs the 80-voice North Coast Chorale and 15-piece Tsunami Swing Big Band. She performs regularly in the local big band, brass quintet, and symphony orchestra.

Kathleen Dickson

Kathleen Dickson is an entrepreneur from Brookings, Oregon. She and her husband, Rich, own and operate “OtterBee’s Market”, an online food buying club which specializes in sourcing organic and artisanal food from within 150-200 miles of Brookings and offering it to member-customers in Brookings, Gold Beach, and Smith River. They have been in the business of promoting and selling locally-sourced foods for the last 20+ years, starting as a retailer of wild-crafted gourmet mushrooms before branching out into organic and locally-grown fruits and veggies, locally produced meat, seafood and dairy, and artisanal goodies.


In addition to running OtterBee’s Market, Kathleen sits on a variety of nonprofit boards in the area, including the Chetco Community Public Library (she was elected to serve on this board in May of 2023); the Curry Student Success Fund (which offers scholarships to non-traditional students in Curry County); and Wild Rivers Connect (the group operates a website for nonprofit listings in Curry and Del Norte Counties). She is the music director for the Smith River United Methodist Church, and has been the South Coast Agritourism Coordinator for Oregon Coast Visitors Association for the past six years.

Loretta Stoner

School secretary for Smith River Elementary School. Enjoying our children's performances in the Madrigal Choir and Steel Band throughout their school years brought much joy to my husband, Fred, and me. I now find joy in singing in the North Coast Chorale. I look forward to having a performing arts center to both attend and participate in performances.

Nicole Stout

As a performing arts alumni of Del Norte High School, and mother to 2 performing arts alumni of Del Norte High School, I am thrilled to be part of bringing this dream to life. Knowing how music opens minds and changes lives, I cannot wait to see how the Performing Arts Center will vitalize our community! 

Luis Pelayo

Coming soon.

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