Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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2020 Vision:

Smith Center board chairman: Arts and culture will change us

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Tiffany Brown

Don Snyder, chairman of the board of directors of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, stands in front of a replica of a box of seats in his office. The center is under construction in Symphony Park.

If the last few years has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be better planners.

Las Vegas has to handle prosperity better because the old business model is going to change.

By 2020, the room capacity will have been absorbed and work on Echelon will have resumed. Las Vegas will continue to grow, but it won’t be rapid growth. For most of my time here, we were the fastest-growing city in the country, but that’s over. We’ll grow, but it’ll be modest growth.

Tourism is going to be challenged by the expansion of gaming worldwide. People simply won’t be traveling as much because there will be casinos in places such as Macau and Singapore and, in the United States, on tribal land. They’re catching up to us.

There’s been a lot of talk about diversifying the economy and the catalysts are in place to make that happen.

Technology is an important part of diversification and the Switch Communications Group’s high density Super NAP data center at the Beltway Business Park will be an important technology hub.

Education is key to Nevada’s future and I’m encouraged with the partnership between UNLV and the Brookings Institution and what that will mean in 10 years.

Nowhere in Las Vegas will diversification be that more apparent than downtown and I can’t say enough about how Oscar Goodman has moved that along.

Some of the game-changing catalysts downtown are the medical facilities, the jewelry center and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health will become more significant to the expansion of Las Vegas as a center for medical treatment and research.

The World Jewelry Center will do for that industry what the World Market Center has done for the furniture business.

One of downtown’s highlights will be the Smith Center.

I visited six world-class cities in Europe and saw 15 performance centers and some of that architecture and style inspired us and is being memorialized in our building. It will be a timeless, elegant place, something that will be with us for the next 200 years.

History tells us how important world-class facilities like these have on the culture of the city’s residents.

So it’s not just going to be a fabulous building, it’s going to change lives. Culture and the arts change lives. What’s happening here will forever change our children.

By 2020, the Smith Center will have found its stride.

All the major top-tier traveling Broadway companies that have passed us over to perform in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago will stop here. World-class dance troupes will have us on their schedules. By 2020, we’ll have the Bolshoi Ballet here.

And major philharmonic orchestras from all over the world will perform in Las Vegas because they play in all the great cities of the world and we will have become one by 2020.

Don Snyder, a Retired Boyd Gaming executive, is chairman of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts board of directors.

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