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In these days when the word “campaign” pops up in nearly every news article, there’s a local campaign in Las Vegas that shouldn’t be ignored.

It has nothing to do with someone running for office, but everything to do with the ongoing commitment to improving the quality of life in Southern Nevada.

It’s the Campaign to Sustain The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

This beautiful complex, which has redefined downtown Las Vegas and done so much to eradicate the generations-old image of our city as a cultural wasteland, requires an ongoing commitment from public support to carry on the wonderful performances, ongoing education programs, and community engagement that it hosts on a daily basis.

The campaign is essential to ensure long-term financial stability and support the Center’s mission for generations to come. Ticket sales cover only 75 percent of the cost of everything that takes place at The Smith Center; the rest must come from public contributions.

While the heavy lifting on the creation and sustenance of performing arts facilities in any metropolitan area is always done by visionaries and philanthropists, in this case former Las Vegas mayors Jan Jones Blackhurst and Oscar Goodman, and mega-fundraisers like Don Snyder, who is most responsible for soliciting and engaging huge early donors like The Donald Reynolds Foundation and its leader Fred Smith, ongoing support from the citizens who benefit most is essential.

One need only to go back to the late 1970s and early ‘80s to understand how far Las Vegas has come as a community that today offers something for everyone. Back then we had no professional sports teams, no Strip hotel had opened since the original MGM Grand in 1973, headliners in the major hotels were by and large singers and comedians who had surpassed their sell-by date, and the only theatrical productions were hosted by UNLV or small dramatic groups.

It was a warm and fun community even then, but it didn’t register even a blip on any scale of great American cities.

While our family has seen half a dozen amazing productions at The Smith Center, like Wicked, The Book of Mormon, Jethro Tull, and Hamilton, we have referred dozens of our relatives and friends to other activities that take place there. Never once has anyone come back disappointed with the experience.

In just the next year alone, the Center will host Broadway productions like Mean Girls, Anastasia, and Jesus Christ Superstar. The non-Broadway lineup includes ­everyone from Paul Anka to Jackie Evancho to Common (the Rapper).

The second year of the National Geographic Speaker series will take the audience from the Grand Canyon to below the sea. Family programming will include two other Broadway shows, Sponge Bob The Musical and The Grinch That Stole Christmas.

Downtown Las Vegas, in large part due to the existence of The Smith Center, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, and the World Furniture Mart, is now a pulsing business hub and a place that thousands of new residents to Las Vegas choose to make their home.

While there are hundreds of options for locals to contribute to the ongoing enrichment of life in Southern Nevada, making certain that offerings like The Smith Center are sustained through the next generations is a noble one.

As the Center’s CEO Myron Martin said in a recent interview, “Whether we’re inspiring students with matinee performances and other arts education experiences, or helping community members share meaningful moments at shows and special events, we take great pleasure in serving as Las Vegas’ living room. Supporting our campaign is the opportunity for people to make a forever gift to the community.”

We need to heed his words. We owe it to future generations of Las Vegans along with visitors to our community.

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About the Author

Jack Sheehan

Vegas Vibe columnist Jack Sheehan has lived in Las Vegas since 1976 and writes about the city for Gaming Today. He is the author of 28 books, over 1,000 magazine articles, and has sold four screenplays.

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