Las Vegas Revamping Its Reputation as a City for the Arts
The Las Vegas arts community is looking to strip the city’s party-girl image. In a tribute to the growing population of local artists, a $470-million arts campus named The Smith Center for the Performing Arts intends to accomplish just that. Boasting a bell tower, a jazz cafe, a children’s museum, and an outdoor park designed for concerts as part of its five-acre space in a redevelopment area of downtown Vegas, The Smith Center’s goal is to provide a long-awaited home for denizen creators as well as re-brand “Sin City” as a cultural and arts mecca.
“This will change the world’s perception about the place we live in,” Myron Martin, president of the Smith Center, told The Huffington Post.
In addition to hosting touring musicians, artists, and shows (this year’s roster includes cellist Yo-Yo Ma, author David Sedaris, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Broadway hits “Wicked,” “Mary Poppins,” and “The Color Purple,” notes The Huffington Post), The Smith Center will rescue the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre from their current ill-fated digs in a campus amphitheater with no acoustics to its name and a casino, respectively. It will also provide classrooms to initiate resident students into the arts.
The recent culture push crests the city’s nasty housing collapse and high unemployment numbers (among the worst in the nation, The Huffington Post reports). With the high foreclosure rates, housing became more affordable for local artists. Prices for studio apartments dipped as low as $250 per month, The Huffington Post writes, and since 2007, the number of arts galleries in the city have more than tripled going from 30 to 144 (based on city records).
Exponential gallery growth is just one brushstroke in painting the city culture. The Huffington Post notes that this year alone, the city will renovate or reopen three museums. In April, a local Shakespeare-troupe is set to debut its first theater. Casinos have also played their part (like the Bellagio’s stunning exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture and The Cosmopolitan’s artist-in-resident program and stiletto sculpture by Roark Gourley).
“Every well-rounded community has an arts community that is part of the fabric of that city, and that’s exactly what is now happening in Las Vegas,” Rob McCoy, chairman of the city’s arts commission, told The Huffington Post.
The Smith Center seeks to further thread that fabric throughout the rest of the local community and visiting tourists. Its $24 starting subscription price simultaneously shuns the Strip’s sleazy glitz and glam and warrants inclusion. Doors open March 10. Tickets are worth the gamble.