The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Reaches Major Milestone with First Anniversary

Smith Center

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Reaches Major Milestone with First Anniversary

Center continues to bring international prestige and world’s best entertainment to Las Vegas

A vision nearly 20 years in the making The Smith Center for the Performing Arts celebrates one full year of operation on March 10, 2013. In the past 365 days, the center has truly become the Heart of the Arts® and has made a name for Las Vegas in the performing arts world.

Noted for “representing Las Vegas’ artistic coming of age” by the Associated Press, The Smith Center has ushered in a new era of entertainment and arts education for the Southern Nevada. With its iconic Carillon Tower bells having rung more than 4,380 times over the past year, The Smith Center sits as the flagship of the 61-acre Symphony Park development in Downtown Las Vegas and has become the city’s premier cultural icon. Considered a timeless architectural triumph, The Smith Center has hosted more than 220 volunteer-led tours of its Art-Deco campus brining more than 5,500 people through its doors. Additionally, the center’s 222 valued volunteers have dedicated a combined 7,748 hours over the past year.

Heralded as “dazzling” by The New York Times and “a cultural oasis” by The Los Angeles Times, The Smith Center has garnered an impressive roster of accolades since opening including a LEED® Gold certification for is sustainability efforts, a nomination as the “Best New Major Music Venue” in the U.S. by Pollstar, a “Best Cultural Attraction” award by the Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association, a Pinnacle Award from the Marble Institute of America for the facility’s natural stone use and the Mayor’s Urban Design Award for its architecture and sustainability.

To mark the first year anniversary, the Nevada Legislature honored The Smith Center for “enabling Southern Nevada to take its place on an international stage, celebrating artistic excellence, education and culture from around the world,” and declared the 10th day of March as “Day of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts” in the State of Nevada.

“It has been a monumental year for us as both an organization and a city,” said Myron Martin, president and CEO of The Smith Center. “The performers that have called The Smith Center their home in Las Vegas truly represent the best-of-the-best from across the world and we’re just getting started. This past year was incredible but what’s to come is even better.”

The World’s Most Distinguished Entertainers Find a Home in Las Vegas

With the opening of The Smith Center, the world’s most revered performing arts productions and musicians finally have a stage worthy of their talents in Las Vegas.

Combined in all of its venues – the 2,050-seat Reynolds Hall, the intimate Cabaret Jazz, versatile Troesh Studio Theater and the outdoor Donald W. Reynolds Symphony Park – there have been more than 450 performances at The Smith Center from March 2012 to March 2013. Ranging from the world’s leading virtuosos of classical music, jazz pioneers, prestigious dance companies, brilliant lecturers and treasured Broadway productions, The Smith Center’s inaugural line up saw more than 420,000 tickets sold.

The center kicked off its first year in grand style with a star-studded opening night celebration that aired nationally on PBS on Sept. 21, 2012 and with an encore airing in March 2013. The once-in-a-lifetime evening, hosted by Emmy Award® winner Neil Patrick Harris, featured Academy Award® winner Jennifer Hudson; country superstars Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris and Martina McBride; iconic singer-songwriter Carole King; trumpeter Arturo Sandoval; world renowned classical violinist Joshua Bell; Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame member John Fogerty; gospel great Mavis Staples; Train lead singer Pat Monahan; and American Ballet Theater dancers Marcello Gomes and Luciana Paris along with an all-star lineup of Broadway greats.

Additional highlights from the first year include a sold out event with jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall, a taped PBS special with the famed Canadian Tenors, two unforgettable evenings with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and several engagements inside Cabaret Jazz including The Smith Center’s resident headliner Clint Holmes and an intimate concert with “Jekyll & Hyde” composer Frank Wildhorn and jazz vocalist Jane Monheit. The esteemed Cleveland Orchestra made headlines at The Smith Center when classical music critic Zachary Lewis with the Cleveland Plain Dealer boldly stated, “Las Vegas has staked a place on the musical map, presenting to the globe a venue where even the best ensembles will be glad to appear.”

In addition to its presented programs, The Smith Center has hosted more than 20 performances for its resident companies, the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theater.

Additionally, the wildly popular Broadway Las Vegas® series, sponsored by Southern Nevada Ford Stores, kicked off in April of 2012 and has since featured some of Broadway’s most beloved productions including “The Color Purple,” “West Side Story,” “Memphis” and a six-week, sold-out run of “Wicked” among many others. The immensely successful series represents the invaluable support for the center by the Las Vegas community with 71 percent of tickets being sold to season ticket holders – an impressively above average industry standard.

“People are talking about Las Vegas in a way they never did before,” said Martin. “Musicians and productions want to come here. We’ve become a major player on the international stage in the performing arts world. None of us could have dreamed of what this has become.”

Now entering its second year, the center continues to diversify its stellar lineup of touring productions with acclaimed acts like Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis taking center stage in March, pianist Lang Lang inside Reynolds Hall in April and Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis in “Rose – A Concert Reading” in May to name a few.

Beginning in August, The Smith Center readies for its next Broadway Las Vegas season kicking off with “Les Miserables.” The 10-show season brings 40 Tony Awards® to Las Vegas and features many timeless classics like “The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess” and “War Horse” as well as the newest Broadway sensations such as the Grammy® and eight-time Tony Award-winning production, “Once,” and the season anchor, “The Book of Mormon,” called “the best musical of this century” by Ben Brantley of The New York Times.

A New Community Epicenter for Southern Nevada

While primarily a world-class performing arts facility, The Smith Center has quickly become a sought-after destination for private functions and special events for families, groups and organizations throughout Southern Nevada.

“With the opening of the state-of-the-art Smith Center, downtown is emerging as a great place for meeting planners to hold unique events,” said Amy Riley, senior director of convention sales at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, in an interview with Meetings Focus magazine in October 2012. Since opening, the center has also hosted an array of groups from all over the U.S. including the Japan Consulate from San Francisco, Calif., the national PBS Board of Directors Dinner from Arlington, Va., Ambassadors of Liechtenstein from Washington, DC and the Marble Institute of America from Cleveland, Ohio.

The five-acre campus, with a multitude of versatile and unique spaces, has hosted an array of special events in between its stage performances including weddings, fundraisers, private receptions and dinners, meetings, graduation ceremonies and presentations. In all, The Smith Center hosted an impressive 166 private and rental functions in its first year including 12 magnificent weddings and 40 corporate and private meetings.

“Our spaces are nothing short of extraordinary,” said Paul Beard, vice president and chief operating officer of the center. “As a performing arts center, the campus inspires creativity and provides a timeless backdrop for creating memories for our neighbors and organizations here in Southern Nevada. We’re honored to have shared so many special moments with our patrons and guests in our first year.”

Highlights from the past year include Nevada Bar Admissions Ceremony for the Nevada Supreme Court, the Nevada Commission on Economic Development hosted by Governor Sandoval, the 12th Annual Las Vegas Juneteenth Festival, an “All Hands” company-wide meeting for international retailer Zappos and the IAVM Performing Arts Managers Conference. Additionally, The Smith Center held the honor of hosting the chief executive officers and chief financial officers from performing arts centers all over the country as part of the Performing Arts Center Coalition in September with the development arm of the organization scheduled to hold its conference at the center in March 2013 and the marketing division in June 2013.

Additionally, the center has hosted more than a dozen prominent concerts for non-profit groups throughout the community including Ribbon of Life benefitting Golden Rainbow, Nathan Adelson Hospice’s “Serenades for Life” and Circus Couture benefitting Children’s Specialty Center of Nevada.

Combined, The Smith Center has seen more than 47,000 guests walk through its doors for these types of events since opening.

Impact to be Felt for Generations to Come

As part of the ongoing commitment to the Las Vegas community, arts education has been woven into the DNA of The Smith Center’s mission since day one. The center’s educational outreach endeavors began well before the first shovel ever hit the ground but with the opening of the facility last March, education took center stage.

Since opening, more than 657 school buses have brought students to the campus and more than 42,000 students and teachers have attended a live performance. Through partnerships with prestigious performing arts organizations from across the country, including the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program and Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, 277 early childhood educators and 720 local teachers have participated in professional development workshops.

“Educators in Southern Nevada are participating in creative professional development workshops that have the potential to impact the rest of their teaching career,” said Candy Schneider, vice president of education and outreach. “The skills the educators take away from these workshops don’t just impact students currently in their classroom but the students who will be in their class next year and the years after that. We’ve yet to truly feel the impact of the center’s presence in our community.”

The Next Chapter of Maintaining the Vision

The creation of The Smith Center was a process that spanned two decades and would not have been possible without the generous support of its Founders, donors, community and public partners in addition to its annual partners including Bank of Nevada, Las Vegas Design Center, Audi Henderson and Desert Audi. After opening on time and on budget, The Smith Center’s fundraising efforts have shifted from creating the facility to maintaining and operating it as well as creating educational programs for generations to come.

“The community has been so generous in supporting us,” said Terry Jones, vice president of development for the center. “But by no means are we set. Nearly 20 percent of our annual operating budget relies on private support for our missions such as bringing arts education to students across our valley.”

Following a successful completion of the Capital Campaign, efforts now focus on the ongoing support of the Annual Fund to support mission-driven endeavors including filling the gap between ticket revenue and operating costs, providing performing arts-based educational opportunities for our students, bringing the best of entertainment throughout the world to Las Vegas and maintaining low-cost tickets to allow accessibility to all members of our community.

“After so many years, we finally have a beautiful cultural centerpiece to call our own,” said Jones. “But we will always need community support to continue what we’ve started and fulfill our promise to the community.”

A New Interactive Experience

In recognition of its first anniversary, The Smith Center will launch a new, interactive feature on its website encouraging visitors to “explore” on Sunday, March 10. The virtual tour of the five-acre campus will be complete with stunning photo and video galleries allowing patrons to learn more about The Smith Center’s architecture, multiple event spaces and all the entertainment it has to offer.

To learn more about upcoming performances, educational endeavors, venue rentals and supporting the center, visit

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