enculturating las vegas into the next millennium... art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater, history, nature and everything else that enriches the lives of those who live and visit southern nevada... Since 2003...

Monday, December 22, 2003

Dear Santa… an Arts Wish list for Vegas

I was bad, I haven’t gambled nearly enough this year to benefit any of the casinos, and I did sneak a peek at Paris Hilton’s film debut, but hear me out. This city deserves a little art loving for the New Year. And in lieu of writing the NEA, I thought that Sin City had a better chance with you. So here is a list of presents that I want you to give the hardworking folks of the City of Las Vegas:

A nice downtown Contemporary Art Museum. LA has the MOCA, Reno has the Nevada Museum of Art, and New York has so many it surely could spare us one. But Las Vegas still doesn't have an urban museum as an arts anchor in the downtown area. Now the mayor is looking to develop the historic Post Office building off of Fremont, but that’s not what I’m talking about. With Vegas returning to its adult roots, supported by city, business, and locals alike, a modern art museum here could become home to edgy and risk-taking programming that other cities might shy away from.

Cheap and stylish living in DT. It’s hard to sustain pride in a neighborhood when most everyone drives away after 5pm and the people that stay behind scare you. A high-rise loft project is slated for Gass and Vegas Blvd., but chances are the struggling artist types won’t be residing there any time soon. And the Holsum Bread building is looking to be turned into residential use as well. But I’m taking about some housing that would take some of the bombed-out buildings and empty lots and turn them into stylish and affordable living. And then we might get people to stick around after dark to spend and live in Downtown.

Financial success in the Arts District. First Fridays have gone a long way to generate interest in the Arts District area. New businesses have popped up with colorful facades filling in where vacancies once were. And more for-profit art galleries have taken up residence in the Arts Factory. But there is no guarantee of success for those betting in that part of town. Let's hope that those with good taste have the disposable income to keep these businesses profitable, so others will follow their lead.

Theaters (part 1) It's hard to make money in the theater, so it's easier to make an existing building a theater than to build one from scratch. So, if nothing new is built, maybe a building could be found and converted. Nothing huge, nothing grand, but a couple of black-box theaters would be a nice addition to the galleries in the Arts District. You may have already given me this with the new SEAT Theater in the Arts Factory.

Theaters (part 2) Vegas deserves an art cinema. There are too many good movies being made and too few screens to see them on. In addition to being a venue for movies from abroad, the local movie scene could have a place to introduce their homebrewed productions.

An Arts and Culture section in a newspaper. Once all of these arts and cultural wishes come true, at least one of the newspapers should have a dedicated section to tell everyone about them. Well-written articles would fill the pages, letting all those who care know about the great music to be heard, art to be seen, and theater to watch, listen to, and be entertained by.

Santa, I know this is a lot to ask for. And you may want to punish us for the new Sirens show at Treasure Island. But that’s outside city limits, so that doesn't count. When you swing by this part of the desert, think about these suggestions when putting some presents under the Christmas palm tree.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at