Desert Companion

Profile: Ally R. Haynes-Hamblen, Director, Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Las Vegas


Ally R. Haynes-Hamblen
Photography by Lucky Wenzel


“Some people might say I’m a little pushy,” says Ally Haynes-Hamblen, who’s half a year into her job running the city of Las Vegas’ Department of Cultural Affairs. Hmm, she seems perfectly pleasant to us. But she’s pitching this pushiness as a key part of her toolkit — being assertive about expanding her department’s role, whether that means partnering with other city departments to include public art in their projects, or meeting with cultural entrepreneurs about changing municipal policy. “I get to go to a lot of meetings,” Haynes-Hamblen says, and notice the gung-ho phrasing: get to. She’s talking about meetings. That tracks with her upbeat take on Vegas, after 13 years of nonprofit work in Phoenix. “What I found when I came here is that there are a lot of well-kept secrets,” she says. Quality artists and performers ready for the culture scene to catalyze into something bigger. She has some specific plans to spur that — more classical and jazz programming being a small-scale example of change she wants to see — and a general urge to ramp this mother up. When it’s noted that “ramp up” generally translates to “spend more money,” she has an answer: more excellent art. “My experience,” she says, “is that money tends to follow great work.” 

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