Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 | 2 a.m.
One day someone will write a history book about Las Vegas that includes this amazing period. I expect the story will use words like vision and visionary to describe the Southern Nevada that we are living in today. There is an infectious can-do spirit in this community that is simply unrivaled. Just as names like Greenspun, Reynolds and Cashman were noted for building Southern Nevada, names like Snyder, Ruvo and Goodman will be called out for their vision, their innovative thinking and for making Las Vegas a better place to live.
When I say vision, I don’t mean the kind of vision statement that gets created at a weekend retreat. I mean the kind of imaginative thinking that comes from people who can envision something great, and then bring that vision to life despite monumental odds. Just look at how our community has changed over the last 10 years — even after going through the single-worst economic downturn in our lifetime. Enhancements to the arts and education have yielded new businesses moving to Las Vegas and improvements to our downtown. This is all possible because of the work of extraordinary people I like to call the maestros of the community. What is it these unique leaders have in common? They all have an uncanny ability to imagine greatness, to see things that don’t exist, and to paint pictures that excite others so much that they want to help.
Who would have dreamed that our city would be the home to the most comprehensive furniture, home décor and gift market in the United States even a decade ago? Who (other than Larry Ruvo) could have imagined an institute dedicated to brain health in an iconic building designed by Frank Gehry that would garner worldwide attention? And how many people said, “There’s no way in heck Las Vegas will ever have a world-class performing arts center”? Well, today we have the World Market Center, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, which was just named a top-10 theater in the world by Pollstar magazine. Today, these three facilities are neighbors in Symphony Park, a former contaminated brownfield once occupied by the Union Pacific Railroad. Just as they transformed the soil they are built on, they are transforming the city, and the world is taking note.
In just 28 months, the Smith Center already has greeted more than a million patrons; hosted more than 125,000 students for performances, workshops and master-classes; and has become what I like to call the living room for Las Vegas. Now other dreamers are starting to paint pictures about additional upgrades to our community, and one day the Smith Center will have new and exciting neighbors, further adding to the vibrancy of our city.
I don’t know if the next big project will be a stadium, a bullet train to Los Angeles, light rail, a chance to host the Summer Olympics or some other transformational development. But, I do know Las Vegas has what it takes to continue to innovate, because we are blessed with some of the most creative, inventive and caring people on the planet.
Las Vegas has been known as the Entertainment Capital of the World for many years, thanks to extraordinary leaders in the gaming and convention industries. They have had a lot to do with the growth of our city, and they deserve their place in the history books not only for their vision, but for their community support as well. I believe that one day our city will be known not only as a great place to visit, but as a great place to live, to raise a family and to retire thanks to extraordinary people who aren’t afraid to dream. These individuals will be written about for future generations to applaud, but I find it exciting that we all get to live here during this amazing period in our city’s history. Look around; take note, history is being written every day in Las Vegas. As for the visionaries, we still need you. So, maestros, please take a moment to dream!
Myron Martin is president and CEO of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.