Las Vegas ranks as “the last major city in the nation that doesn’t have an art museum,” according to Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.
He and other Nevada arts advocates hope to change that with a $10 million grant to help establish an art museum in Las Vegas and expand the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, as proposed in Segerblom’s Senate Bill 187.
The Senate Finance Committee held a Friday afternoon hearing on the bill, which would provide seed money for a multimillion-dollar museum in Symphony Park, adjacent to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
“We really need it,” Segerblom said in a telephone interview before the hearing. “Hopefully the stars are in alignment.”
In addition to $10 million from the state’s general fund, the bill calls for a dollar-for-dollar match from private donors to help fund the museums.
“This is bigger than just art — it’s a quality-of-life issue,” said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who with Segerblom wrote an article advocating the proposed legislation that appeared in Friday’s Reno-Gazette Journal and is scheduled to run Sunday in the Review-Journal’s opinion section.
“The money is significant,” NMA executive director David Walker said following Friday’s hearing. Even more meaningful, he added, was the signal that “arts and culture are a part of our future as a state.”
Although “most of our funding will be coming from the community,” said Katie O’Neill, president of the Art Museum at Symphony Park, “this is showing the state is standing with the arts.”
In connection with the proposed funding, NMA and AMSP officials envision creating a unified private nonprofit to oversee the museums in Las Vegas and Reno.
It’s hardly the first time the two groups have worked together. The exhibit “Tilting the Basin: Contemporary Art in Nevada,” which debuted last year at NMA, has been open since mid-March at a pop-up space in downtown Las Vegas; it closes Sunday.
NMA also shepherded artist Ugo Rondinone’s “Seven Magic Mountains” environmental art project, which opened a year ago in the desert south of Las Vegas.
“The possibility of us working even more closely with the Nevada Museum of Art, working statewide, is just tremendous,” O’Neill said.
During Friday’s hearing, Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, asked if the bill’s advocates would consider a smaller appropriation; Segerblom said they would.
The bill now awaits a funding vote and, if successful, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s approval, before the legislative session ends June 5.
Sandoval’s staff members have “indicated he’s supportive,” Segerblom said.
Review-Journal reporter Sean Whaley contributed to this story from Carson City. Contact Carol Cling at email@example.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.