In another example of arts and culture growing clout nationally, Americans for the Arts was invited to speak before the Las Vegas City Council's Strategic Planning Session, which is used to help determine the future programs and priories of the city. I had the pleasure of being one of 12 speakers and the only one whose topic was not on transportation or from the traditional business sector.
Attending this session was Mayor Carolyn Goodman, the six City Council Members, and all the department heads of Las Vegas City Government - including Nancy Deaner, the Director of the Las Vegas City Arts Commission.
I began my talk by stating that it was my goal to make them think about the arts and culture in a new way. I began with a quick over-view of the economic impact of the arts and culture. Specifically, I distributed our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV calculator and profiled the Neon Museum. I am certain the attendees had no idea that the museum has an economic footprint of over $4 million, supported over 150 jobs, and returned over $200,000 in local tax dollars. Once I had their attention with that, I moved onto how the arts could be transformational. How a child's education that included the arts could help them to be a more productive member of the local community. How the arts can be used to help make people, especially minority populations, feel at home in Las Vegas. How the arts provide a sense of place and belonging. I believe I was successful in what I set out to do – shed new light on the value of arts and culture to a city and the people who live there.