Several times during the Common Field meet-up last Saturday we heard people say that they wished Las Vegas’ art history was more publicly accessible, so we’re posting our notes from the event on this blog for the benefit of anyone who wants a record of the night.
(Essentially, we wrote down what people were saying and we’ve arranged it in categories.)
What makes Las Vegas unique?
“That pioneer aspect of being here.” There’s no “soul-crushing establishment.” We can shape the future “without a lot of legacy in the way.” This is a “gorgeous, tiny” community where people know one another and they treat one another with respect and kindness. Settlers + Nomads brings people together. The Barrick is “a rock.” Las Vegas is a “vibrant, crazy, diverse, easy-to-live-in city.” It’s possible to find your own space. (That’s more difficult in the Bay Area, hinted someone from the Bay Area.) A UNLV art student declared that the art students all “feed off” one another in a “really amazing” way.
K-12 students should be introduced to the arts.
Someone said we should “start early;” bring children to the arts before high school. A second person felt “frustrated” that there was “no arts education program any more at UNLV.” But, said a third person who was an art teacher, you could study arts and education separately and then put them together. It should be easier, this third person added, but at least it’s possible. Arts education is “still intact” in Las Vegas and that’s not the same everywhere. Did we know that Nevada’s arts education guidelines were updated recently? “Some of the newest standards in the nation.”
Someone brought up the PAYBAC program, recommending that we use it to visit schools and tell students what it means to work as a professional artist. Someone else suggested a more direct route, saying that artists should phone teachers and ask if a classroom visit was possible.
Many of us miss the Contemporary Arts Center.
Somebody called First Friday “a good incubator” for arts careers, but where do you go next? The Contemporary Arts Center used to fill that gap, said someone else. It was run on a shoestring budget. It had amazing shows. A third person told us he was only convinced he could live in Las Vegas when he discovered the CAC.
As the CAC was shutting down it felt “small and isolated.” If the CAC starts up again then “everybody needs to be involved.” People burned out on the CAC. It didn’t have enough support. If you want an organization like that to progress then everybody has to engage with it. There was not enough funding for the CAC. It needed money. We have government agencies who might help to fund something like the CAC but they don’t talk to one another.
Another voice warned us not to give away our agency to civic organizations. They don’t necessarily know what to fund, the way artists do. We need financial support from artists as well as civic support.
People agreed that the city needs an alternative art space. “Where’s our fifth column?”
Frustration with arts funding. Thoughts about arts advocacy.
MGM is partnering with Art Basel Miami and Elaine Wynn is giving money to LACMA. How do we get them to support people here? What can we do to educate Las Vegans about the history of Las Vegas art? Why are there only international artists at the Palms?
Paco Alvarez says he is preparing to donate his collection of Las Vegas art scene ephemera to Special Collections at the Lied Library. Someone else says funding opportunities are out there but artists have to go after them. “You have to be inventive here.” She mentions Nevada Arts Council grants. Artists can apply to hang work in the mayor’s office. Henderson and North Las Vegas are starting to pay attention to public art. Maybe artists should look for opportunities there? You need to network.
We see “money dripping everywhere in this city.”
Someone mentions Pacific Standard Time in Los Angeles. It has a theme, it is publicized, highly organized: she thinks we should have that here, a focal point, so that artists will be noticed. How about an art hub, a large building with lots of studio space and free rent for artists? What if we create an archive of every Las Vegas artist, even the ones who don’t have careers yet? Put the archive on a website. Maybe that will “spark something.” Someone remembers an Americans for the Arts convention where people were giving five-minute presentations about their projects. She thinks it would be great if Las Vegas’ artists could organize something like that. Someone else remembers a Texan slam poetry group that met every week for critique sessions.
Communication and advertising are the key to success for any non-profit. Las Vegas has great communities but there is no communication between the communities. We should create active networks.
Wendy Kveck asks a representative of Cultural Alliance Nevada to tell us about the organization.
The aim of Cultural Alliance Nevada is to bridge the gap between northern and southern Nevada, and rural and urban Nevada. They want to bring the arts to the attention of people who are making legislative policies. Before the election they sent surveys to the candidates, asking them how much they had already contributed to the arts in Nevada and how much they would contribute after they had been elected. They are looking into things like healthcare for artists.
If you call yourself an artist “you make a commitment to show up” to other artists’ shows.
We need practical classes, says someone, to tell artists how to do their taxes and other things like that.
Also we should have classes that teach us how to make neon art.
Let’s bend glass.