Downtown Arts Venue Announced; Smith Center Stages A Revival
What a difference a year makes.
The downtown Las Vegas performing arts scene was boarded up in 2020 because of the pandemic. This summer, within a few days of each other, the development of a new downtown performing arts venue was revealed, and the Smith Center announced plays and concerts would be returning to its Symphony Park stages this fall.
The Beverly — a $30 million, 150-seat theater, retail, and office property — is planned for Sixth Street near Bonneville Avenue, by the Writer's Block coffee shop. It’s named for Beverly Rogers, benefactor and chair of the Rogers Foundation, which is developing the project.
Rogers and the foundation have long supported arts-related causes, including the Black Mountain Institute literary initiative and the Rogers Art Loft artist residency.
“We as a group at the foundation feel that (the arts) is instrumental in the building of character for children,” she told State of Nevada. “It's something that that life needs.”
The Beverly will include space for workshops, lectures, and the showing of independent films when it opens next year.
“It's a way for us to offer more opportunities to students,” she said. “There are budding film schools at LVA (Las Vegas Academy), for example, down the street from us, and UNLV.”
She said the project fits well in the area’s renewed focus on the arts.
“Downtown has slowly been becoming an urban cultural center, from the Smith Center to the Arts District,” Rogers said. “And I think we fit in well.”
The Smith Center, which has been closed since the start of the pandemic, this week announced plans to return to live performances in September. Its fall slate includes several concerts and plays, including a Broadway-bound adaptation of the film “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
The announcement led Smith Center President and CEO Myron Martin to choke with emotion.
“It hit me so hard that I really couldn't get through my comments, to say welcome to the Smith Center. Let's turn the lights back on,” he said.
Martin said that patrons will notice changes to their theater experience, including digital tickets, cashless concessions, and perhaps getting rid of the printed program.
“There are long-term questions that are coming out of this,” Martin said, “but we're preparing to make this the safest place possible.”
An observer of the Las Vegas arts scene says its revival will be welcomed by the public.
“There's a lot of pent-up energy out there,” said Brian Paco Alvarez, an entrepreneur, anthropologist, and former Las Vegas arts commissioner. “What's even more exciting is the chatter from outside the city.”
Beverly Rogers, chairwoman, Rogers Foundation; Myron Martin, president and CEO, the Smith Center; Brian "Paco" Alvarez, downtown advocate, entrepreneur