Saturday, May 26, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Artist and illustrator Lance Smith grew up around community centers like Winchester Cultural Center and the Boys and Girls Club. The painter and draftsman is one of the many local creatives who are excited about the long-awaited expansion of Winchester.
“It’s allowing people to know that they live in a city that cares about them,” said Smith, who recently led a free artist workshop at Winchester. “Any kind of program that opens those doors [to the community] is just tremendous.”
Clark County may have a variety of parks and recreation centers—even a museum—but it has only one cultural center. As such, Winchester offers a buffet of cultural and artistic performances and instruction. Its art gallery displays some of the most important shows in town, and its 274-seat theater hosts a variety of local and touring performers, such as classical violinists joined by the Las Vegas Youth Camerata Orchestra on May 26.
Built in 1982 with a dance studio added in 2015, the center has desperately needed more space for years. A$2,745,325 expansion of Winchester Cultural Center, funded through a federal Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will fill this need. The County Commissioner’s office, Community Resources and Parks spearheaded the project.
“I have been a part of some wonderful exhibitions, listened to outstanding performers, met with nearly everyone in the arts, and watched families come and go at Winchester, and this expansion is long overdue and very welcomed,” said artist Bobbie Ann Howell of Nevada Humanities. She remembers how Winchester served as an oasis during the Great Recession as organizations cut funding and programs. “Winchester Cultural Center absorbed some of those groups, but space was limited,” Howell said. “This expansion can only be a terrific addition to building back up the opportunities for the cultural communities across the Valley; hopefully some of the dance, folk and music groups can once again come out of their garages and back to cultural centers to share their art with each other.”
Construction started in mid-January, and the expansion is set to debut this summer. The new space includes an arts room, a music room, a green room for performers and a fitness room that will serve as overflow for theater and dance classes. In October, the theater will undergo a remodel, with upgraded seating, sound and lights. The expansion will also include the addition of needed storage space. In a pinch, they’ve been using offices as storage room.
“Winchester has been a beacon to the East Side for decades. Many local artists, myself included, have cut our teeth there and have made great strides,” said artist and UNLV photo instructor Checko Salgado. “I’m excited that they will soon be offering more classrooms to teach a variety of arts. This will encourage positive development and build a stronger community.”
This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.