New director of cultural affairs surprised by Las Vegas art scene

Vegas Voices is a weekly series highlighting notable Las Vegans.

At least she didn’t have to adjust to triple-digit temperatures.

When Ally Haynes-Hamblen arrived in Las Vegas in January to become the director of the city of Las Vegas’ Office of Cultural Affairs, she came from Phoenix-adjacent Scottsdale, Arizona — one of the few places that’s usually hotter than Las Vegas during the searing summer season.

But Haynes-Hamblen’s move from one desert city to another required a different kind of acclimation: from the private to the public sector. In Scottsdale, she was director of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts; before that, she was general manager and associate producer for New York-based Entertainment Events, the company behind such touring comedies as “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” and “Late Nite Catechism.”

The chance to “work for a city,” especially one “with a compelling vision for art as a catalyst” for economic development and “bringing communities together,” inspired the Denver native, 43, to become a Las Vegan.

We caught up with Haynes-Hamblen in her City Hall office, where she reflected on her new hometown and the chance to be “in the front seat” when it comes to Southern Nevada’s cultural drive.

Review-Journal: In your first months here, what have you observed and learned about Las Vegas?

Haynes-Hamblen: What I’ve found is that there’s a bustling, I almost want to say thriving, arts community that operates pretty much under the radar. … Las Vegas is a worldwide brand — and when people hear “Las Vegas,” they think the Strip. It’s really difficult to compete for attention. As someone who’s been in the arts field for decades, it was a pleasant surprise to find so much happening. But, as a lifelong arts professional, I shouldn’t have been unaware.

What was your reaction to your first Las Vegas summer?

I’m just going to say that it was fortunate I moved here from Arizona, so I was prepared for the blistering heat. But there were a few weeks when Las Vegas might have been a little warmer than Phoenix. One thing I can say: I have really grown to love the fact that Mount Charleston is so close. To escape the heat in Phoenix, it’s two hours in the car to Flagstaff.

What other comparisons have you made between Phoenix and Las Vegas?

Land-wise, Las Vegas is a smaller area, which I’ve really enjoyed. It’s made it easier to learn the town quickly. But there are a lot of parallels. I was there 13 years and when I first got there, there was a bustling art community just on the verge. Now, there’s a blossoming visual arts community and an alternative music (scene). There are a lot of indicators that Las Vegas is about to just blossom.

What do you tell people who consider arts and culture a “frill” undeserving of public support?

Las Vegas has a unique case to present to naysayers, because the arts is one of the key elements that’s helped revitalize Las Vegas, particularly in the downtown corridor. … The Smith Center, the Neon Museum and the Mob Museum — they infused a lot of economic activity with construction jobs … because we were building cultural assets that now employ hundreds of people in the downtown core. … To me, that presents the best case for making a public investment in the arts.

How did you get interested in the arts?

My grandmother was a painter and sculptor. My parents were singers. My grandfather was an actor and my aunts were all performers. It’s kind of in my blood. … I grew up around it and I was always interested in it, either as a performer, then moving backstage. That was my entree into stage management; I have a proclivity for taking charge, from stage management to company management to production management to the type of career I have now.

Do you think the “cultural desert” cliche is true of Las Vegas?

A lot of people that I’ve met say “there’s no culture in Las Vegas.” I almost relish that, because I give them my card and I say, “There’s a lot going on; let me tell you about it.” We are geographically isolated, but I can’t subscribe to the idea of a cultural desert (with) the creativity that’s happening here.

■ What’s the ringtone on your phone?

A traditional telephone ring. I miss the old-fashioned phone.

■ Favorite indulgence?

A very expensive one: a full day at a spa. Especially here in Las Vegas.

■ Favorite vacation destination?

My husband and I love to travel and we have our bucket-list places. We just spent three weeks in Australia and New Zealand. But probably our favorite is the south of France; we seriously considered moving there.

■ Favorite movie?

I sort of have a variety of favorite movies for different reasons. But “Contact,” with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. I lived in Philadelphia when it came out (in 1997) and I saw it with some friends. In the space of a week, I probably saw it seven times. Now, when I reach out (to them), there’s always a “Contact” reference.

■ Daily ritual?

It centers around coffee. A few years ago, we threw out all the automatic coffee makers and switched over to a French press. Now, every morning, it’s kind of like a ritual.

■ Favorite motto?

It’s one that I’ve had ever since college. Something my friends (said) that got me through a rough patch. It’s one of those mantras that I repeat and have used on many road trips: “I am divinely guided and directed, guarded and protected.”

Contact Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Entertainment
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like