Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2017

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Commissioner wants county to fund public art program

Plan targets up to $1.25 million annually from existing tax collections


Steve Marcus

Tree guards are shown outside the Historic Fifth Street School Thursday, April 11, 2012. The tree guards by Jeff Fulmer were previously located in the Arts District near the Arts Factory.

Chris Giunchigliani

Chris Giunchigliani

In support of public art and local artists, a county commissioner wants a portion of the money already collected from hotel room taxes and a capital projects tax for a county arts fund, capping it at $1.25 million annually.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani says her idea is to bring the county, the largest government agency in Southern Nevada, in line with cities like Las Vegas and Reno, which fund similar programs.

“(County) staff told me it would have minimal impact on other programs, that no one else loses out,” she said.

Her vision is for the county to form committees to help decide how to direct the money.

“So if the Strip wants to do a beautification program, we could work with the private sector and solicit local artists to bid on the projects; there could be art along our corridors,” she said. “It would be an absolute jewel to complement what other jurisdictions like the city of Las Vegas are doing.”

The proposed ordinance will be read into the record at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting; a formal public hearing would be scheduled for a later meeting.

Under the proposal, each year representatives from the county’s Parks & Recreation Department would submit a budget including proposed artistic programs and projects. Some art wouldn’t get funding, such as commercially produced pieces or reproductions.

Though a public hearing won’t occur for weeks, Commissioner Tom Collins said he wanted to be sure using up to $1.25 million wasn’t going to hurt some other county program already using the money.

“I want to know where that money is going to come from,” he said.

At the same time, he noted, Strip casinos have seen more than two years of economic improvement, so maybe additional room tax money is available.

Collins is chairman of the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority, which allots a portion of room taxes collected from hotels to the county every quarter. That money is supposed to go toward the enhancement of parks and recreation, he noted.

“I’m not saying I’m against it,” he said. “But we’ve just got so many needs in the county already.”

If the fund gains approval, however, it will be an enormous boon to struggling local artists and local communities, said Joan Lolmaugh, president of the Metro Arts Council of Southern Nevada.

“It builds neighborhoods, ties them together,” said Lolmaugh, who also spoke of the renown of such public art as Picasso’s untitled sculpture in Chicago’s Daley Plaza.

“It’s a small investment when you think of the potential return,” she said.

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