Frankie Moreno and his crew rush through a side door at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Fresh off a gig at Kensington Palace in London, the performers have come directly from the airport.
A bit later, the young adults who have been invited to a pre-show gathering begin to arrive at Cabaret Jazz, and Smith Center President and CEO Myron Martin is there to welcome them, mingle and chat as guests enjoy wine and small bites.
The intimate gathering — the second event for a membership group called Fanfare — is part of a larger effort by Smith Center supporters to engage with the young professionals whom they hope will become the newest generation of arts lovers, advocates and donors.
“The whole point of a young professional organization is finding the next generation of leaders who are going to invest in a community jewel like The Smith Center,” says Fanfare senior adviser Alisa Nave-Worth, a native of the Las Vegas Valley who helped form a similar group for the Las Vegas Philharmonic.
Fanfare is open to 21- to 40-year-olds who pay $250 (payable in installments) for an annual membership, which comes with perks such as behind-the-scenes tours and access to private events.
Nave-Worth and Elaine Sanchez, both members of The Smith Center’s President’s Advisory Council, pitched the idea for Fanfare to Martin, who says he welcomes diverse community involvement in the arts. “It’s good for us, it’s good for (Fanfare members), it’s good for the community,” he says.
Publicized through word of mouth and social media, Fanfare has about 65 members and plenty of room to grow.
Omar Saucedo, a 31-year-old attorney who works in public affairs for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, is co-chairman of Fanfare, tasked with continuing to build interest in the group and ultimately, the nonprofit center’s donor base.
“They’re trying to appeal to you at a younger age,” Saucedo says, to help establish a culture of philanthropy that will carry over generations. “You’re more likely to donate when you’re older and in a better position to donate.”
Back at the Cabaret Jazz event, Smith Center sound engineer Kevin Harvey is sharing details of his work with the group of 20 attendees. He has worked with performers such as Sting, Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen, helping them sound their absolute best. It’s easy, he tells the group, because Cabaret Jazz has some of the best acoustics he’s ever experienced. For 20 minutes, his audience listens attentively and engages with questions.
Later, after Moreno’s upbeat performance, the crowd heads for the exits, but Fanare members lag behind. With the lights now up, Moreno answers questions from the group with a mix of humor and earnestness. He even agrees to group and individual photos before they leave.
The meet-and-greet is a Fanfare perk that the group’s founders think members will agree is unique. “There’s a void that we’re filling,” Sanchez says.
“The intention is that this is not just a one-year commitment,” Nave-Worth says. “Hopefully this is something that evolves and grows over time.”