When The Smith Center opened in March 2012, board member Michael Yackira knew it would make a tremendous impact across Southern Nevada.
“There’s something transformational about performing arts centers like this,” Yackira says. “We have so much entertainment in the Strip, but to have a place that is for us locals, that can bring the entertainment that exists in places like Broadway for people here to take part in, it’s phenomenal.”
With The Smith Center celebrating its eighth year this March, it continues to fulfill this vision.
The center has transformed arts and culture in Southern Nevada in numerous ways, including:
- Presenting the best in music, theater and dance with hundreds of shows each year. This includes the Broadway Las Vegas Series, offering Tony-winning productions such as Hamilton, The Book of Mormon and Wicked.
- Bringing in leading performers that might not otherwise visit Las Vegas, such as the Royal Philharmonic, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the New York Ballet and Wynton Marsalis.
- Launching all-new works, including producing its own original musical “Idaho! The Comedy Musical.”
- Nurturing the next generations of arts lovers and performers, with education and outreach initiatives impacting over 700,000 Southern Nevada students and teachers, at no cost to schools.
As The Smith Center accomplished all this in just eight years, Southern Nevadans can expect much more in the ensuing decades.
“The Smith Center is something that will last for years and years, for generations to come,” Yackira says.
As a nonprofit, The Smith Center wouldn’t exist today without donor support, says retired board member Roger Thomas.
When community leaders gathered in the early 1990s to envision a world-class performing arts center, this followed with 20 years of rallying community and government support.
Generous donations from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and the center’s 57 founders made it possible for the center to open on time, on budget, and with a $50 million endowment.
Thomas — also the longtime executive vice president-design for Wynn Design & Development — helped it all come to fruition, by lending his professional expertise to the construction and design of The Smith Center, as well as building its world-class art collection.
“This has been the most fulfilling board position I’ve ever held, in 40 years of community involvement,” Thomas says, hailing the center as “an extraordinary building.”
Donor support will now ensure The Smith Center’s future.
Southern Nevadans recently celebrated Thomas at a Smith Center event marking his retirement from the board.
The event also publicly launched one of the most important initiatives in Smith Center history: the Campaign to Sustain The Smith Center.
Aimed at ensuring The Smith Center will serve as Southern Nevada’s Heart of the Arts for generations to come, the campaign targets to double the center’s endowment.
Thomas marked the occasion with a personal contribution to the campaign, which will be matched by Wynn Resorts Employee Foundation.
“(As The Smith Center is a nonprofit), it costs millions each year to provide its top-flight productions and educational programs,” Thomas says. “That needs to be supported with philanthropic funding.”
All community members are welcome to offer any level of support, he adds – ensuring that they and their families will make memories at the center for many years to come.
“The performances and visual arts contained within this building are important to the education and enrichment of our children and their children,” Thomas says.
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