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1 October memorial planners seek to ensure inclusion of artists

Before a lengthy search begins for a firm to design the 1 October memorial, a concern has been raised that one group could be excluded: artists.

It was broached Wednesday by the committee tasked with planning the memorial to honor the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting. The seven-member panel now seeks to determine how to ensure that the process is more inclusive to artists.

A subgroup of the 1 October Memorial Committee will research how artists, from local to international, can share their ideas with the firms that apply to design the permanent public homage on the northeast corner of the Las Vegas Village festival near Reno Avenue and Giles Street.

The prospect is trickier than it might appear, according to committee members and those assisting the process. A public session between artists and design candidates could pose copyright issues, they said. And while they agreed that voices must be heard, the committee was unsure to what extent it could compel applicants to meet with artists.

Ultimately, the committee’s decision to search for a forum to connect artists and design candidates signaled members’ desire to more extensively engage the hundreds of artists or more that they expect will want to participate in the memorial.

Plans already call for artists to be involved on a narrower scale. Mickey Sprott, Clark County’s cultural program supervisor for public art, said there will be an open invitation beginning in February for all interested artists to provide their information, including samples of past work and a letter of intent.

The eventual database of artists will become available to firms that respond to a request to demonstrate their qualifications to design the memorial, Sprott said. The idea is that the winning firm, expected to be chosen by the County Commission in 2023, will be able to build out its team by selecting some artists from the roster.

But absent in that plan is the ability of artists to provide their ideas for the memorial, leading committee member Mynda Smith to express alarm that the process would severely limit the potential of proposals.

“I feel like people will feel left behind,” said Smith, whose sister, Neysa Tonks, was killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. “They can only get on a list, and then they can hope that their ideas are going to be asked for.”

Lengthy conversation about her concern led to the committee deciding to enable a subcommittee to explore how to ensure that artistic ideas are presented to design applicants.

The design firm selection process, beginning in February, is expected to last roughly 14 months, according to Sprott.

On Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire from his Mandalay Bay suite into the crowd across the street at the music festival. Fifty-eight people initially were killed, and hundreds more were injured. Two survivors later died from injuries suffered in the shooting.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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