Here you’ll find answers to the most common questions about the construction, architecture, history, design, and community goals of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Where is The Smith Center for the Performing Arts located?
Set on nearly five acres in Downtown Las Vegas, The Smith Center is at the heart of Symphony Park. We are northeast of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which is at the corner of Bonneville Avenue and Grand Central Parkway.
When did it open?
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts broke ground in May 2009 and opened in March 2012.
What inspired the style?
Inspired by many styles of architecture including Art Deco, The Smith Center is constructed out of Indiana limestone and features smooth masculine lines that are rich in detail. 17 stories above it all is an incredible bell tower that houses a four-octave carillon comprising 47 handcrafted bronze bells. The tower is topped with a stainless steel silver crown.
Who designed the facility?
The Smith Center was designed by an internationally renowned design team. David M. Schwarz Architects, Inc. is known for extraordinary buildings. Schwarz has designed two of the most celebrated U.S. performing arts facilities—Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth and Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville. Schwarz’s firm is also responsible for designing other great public assembly buildings including the American Airlines Center in Dallas and the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
HKS Architects, Inc., a top-five architectural firm is the executive architect. Fisher Dachs Associates, Inc. is recognized as a leading theater consultant, with more than 250 projects around the globe. Akustiks is known for refined acoustical design and is responsible for recent acoustical successes with the new Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.
The design team also included Donnell Consultants Incorporated (cost management), Whiting-Turner (construction manager at risk), The Projects Group (project management), Kleinfelder, Inc., HMA Consulting, IBA Consultants, Martin & Martin Civil Engineers and Surveyors, MSA Engineering Consultants, SBLD Studio, Terracon, Two Twelve Associates, Inc., Green Building Services, and Walter P. Moore Engineers and Consultants.
Is the facility environment-friendly?
Since the project’s inception, creating a highly efficient and sustainable campus guided the design and construction process. The Smith Center’s sustainable features include energy efficient windows, water wise restroom fixtures and natural lighting. The Smith Center is the nation’s first performing arts center of its size and scope to be LEED certified.
What kind of performances are offered?
Designed to address the needs of community residents, The Smith Center offers a blend of performances by local arts groups as well as first-run touring attractions, including world-renowned stars and Broadway shows. We feature music including jazz, contemporary, and classical, theater including Broadway, family-friendly events, and local theatre, and dance companies from all over the world. The Smith Center’s resident companies include the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre.
What kinds of educational programs are offered?
The Smith Center stages many performances, workshops and master classes for students in Clark County. The Smith Center has joined with the Clark County School District and the Cultural Division of Clark County to participate in the John F. Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program. This partnership features national and international artists who conduct workshops for teachers and students, connecting the arts to all areas of the curriculum.
In the fall of 2009, The Smith Center became one of 16 regional programs in the country in cooperation with the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Virginia. This internationally recognized program enhances preschool education by training teachers how to incorporate creative music, theater and dance into their curricula. Southern Nevada Wolf Trap is in partnership with United Way of Southern Nevada Success By 6 and Citi in Nevada.
How is The Smith Center different from other local theaters?
Unlike many Las Vegas showrooms, The Smith Center is a technical work of art with the latest advancements and amenities. It accommodates the largest touring attractions, and yet is acoustically refined to showcase the finest soloists. It is a stand-alone, family-friendly cultural arts center that serves the needs of our community, local arts organizations, and our children.
Where can patrons park?
The Smith Center was built with easy parking in mind. Valet parking is found in the front of the building, and we also offer garage and surface lot parking.
How is the Smith Center funded?
The Smith Center is funded by a public-private partnership.
Public Sector: The city of Las Vegas provides land, infrastructure, environmental clean-up, and parking. The city of Las Vegas, Clark County and State Legislature collaborated on a car rental fee that resulted in a bond of $105 million. The City commitment totals $170 million.
Private Sector: In 2005, The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation with a landmark gift of $50 million, in honor of their chairman, Fred W. Smith, and his wife, Mary, led our private funding campaign. Since then, the Reynolds Foundation has continued their generosity, pledging an additional $100 million grant to help complete the campus. This gift is the largest philanthropic donation in state history, and combined with their initial contribution, makes it the second largest donation to the performing arts in the United States.
We continue to receive generous donations from a variety of companies, organizations, and private citizens.
Who made it happen?
The Smith Center’s board of directors worked on this project for more than a decade. The board is comprised of Chairman Donald D. Snyder, Vice Chairman Dr. Keith Boman, Secretary Kim Sinatra, Treasurer Charles Atwood, Assistant Secretary Gary Jacobs, Senator Richard Bryan, Alan Feldman, Robert Forbuss, Nancy Houssels, Scott MacTaggart, Richard Plaster, Jacqulyn Shropshire, Roger Thomas, Sig Rogich, Jonathan Halkyard, Rose McKinney-James, Diana Bennett, Marilyn Burrows and Cedric Crear. President and CEO Myron G. Martin has an extensive background in production and performing arts center management.
Who owns the facility?
Until the bond on rental car fees is paid, the city of Las Vegas owns the facility and The Smith Center will operate it under a long-term lease agreement. After the bond is paid, The Smith Center anticipates that the city will deed the center back to the Foundation.
The downtown area is an easily accessible city-center location. Its central location makes it an attractive destination for all residents in the valley. In cities across the country, performing arts centers have been an effective tool for downtown revitalization. Based on these case studies, the mayor and city planners were pleased to set aside downtown property for the project. Downtown has transformed into an artistic and cultural hub for Las Vegas, and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts is proud to be a part of its revitalization.
Can Las Vegas support such a facility?
A public opinion survey by renowned pollster Frank Luntz showed overwhelming, broad-based support for a performing arts center. A series of feasibility and operating studies support the community’s need for and ability to support The Smith Center. Clark County Commissioners and state legislators scrutinized this information before approving public support of the project. Our successful record of ticket sales for marquee Broadway shows, high-profile entertainers, and national-touring productions support these hypotheses.
Does The Smith Center work with local arts organizations?
Serving as an incubator for new artistic endeavors, our programs reach beyond The Smith Center campus and spread throughout the community, providing inspiration and encouragement to local arts organizations.
The Smith Center’s state-of-the-art facilities enable organizations to flourish artistically and grow institutionally, ultimately fulfilling our city’s longstanding dream of engaging the entire community in new and exciting ways through an array of inspiring programs.