The statue of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and exterior photo of Boman Pavilion.
The Heart of the Arts®

About

From its very beginning, The Smith Center was envisioned as a world-class performing arts center that would develop and present the best and brightest in a broad range of first-rate programming and unite the residents of our community.

MISSION

To inspire artists, audiences, and our diverse community through great performances, enriching experiences, and engaging educational programming. 

From its very beginning, The Smith Center was envisioned as a world-class performing arts center that would develop and present the best and brightest in a broad range of first-rate programming and unite the residents of our community.

History

When The Smith Center for the Performing Arts opened in March 2012, it marked the culmination of a nearly 20-year endeavor to provide Southern Nevada with a world-class performing arts center. Presenting the very best of music, theater and dance, The Smith Center has placed arts and culture in Southern Nevada on an international stage, wholly separate from the entertainment of the Las Vegas Strip. As a nonprofit, The Smith Center further serves as a community hub, where Southern Nevadans from all walks of life gather to create memories and experience the joy of the performing arts side by side.

When The Smith Center opened its doors, it was hailed as the realization of a dream in the desert. Although Las Vegas was already known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, it had never offered a leading performing arts center that could serve as a cultural foundation and connect the community by presenting music, dance and theater performances outside of the Strip. In fact, prior to the opening of The Smith Center, Las Vegas remained the largest community in North America without a performing arts center, an element that defines most of the great cities in the world.

The tremendous undertaking to address this issue began in the early 1990s, when a group of community leaders gathered and decided to dream big, creating a vision for the cultural infrastructure they felt their fast-growing city of Las Vegas so badly needed. This followed with a tireless, 17-year campaign to rally community and government support for a cultural resource that would breathe new life into Southern Nevada and sustain it for generations to come.

A Public-Private Partnership

While sentiment in favor of a performing arts center was high, funding the project initially proved daunting. Thanks to an early and generous gift of $50 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the project team gained the momentum needed to generate fundraising and widespread community support.

A public-private partnership was formed, with the City of Las Vegas investing resources in the center’s development to help revitalize Las Vegas’ downtown. The city council passed a memorandum to provide 5.5 acres of land for the center, as well as infrastructure, parking and environmental clean-up. On top of this, the project team successfully lobbied the state legislature and Clark County to approve a car rental tax to help fund the center.

Fundraising advanced with the support of 57 community members, The Smith Center’s Founders, each donating $1 million or more.

When the Great Recession threatened to stall the project, the Reynolds Foundation further contributed an additional $100 million —one of the largest arts donations in U.S. history — which secured the foundation’s chair Fred Smith and his wife Mary as the center’s namesakes.

An Inspired Design

The years-long planning of The Smith Center focused on every level of detail. This involved the project team touring more than 100 venues around the world to gather ideas for the center’s design, including visits to the Palais Garnier in Paris, the Musikverein in Vienna and La Scala in Milan.

The Smith Center ultimately took inspiration from the Art Deco architecture of the Hoover Dam, in homage to the dam’s key role in the development of Las Vegas. Even before hiring nationally recognized architect David M. Schwarz, The Smith Center team engaged an acoustician to ensure that audiences who attended events would experience the most optimal sound possible.

A Pioneer in Arts, Design and Education

Along the way, several hallmarks helped to define the long-term vision of The Smith Center. These included becoming the first performing arts center of its size and scope to achieve a gold-level certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The center further commissioned numerous art pieces by celebrated artists to highlight artistic creativity in all its forms. Through these efforts, The Smith Center team set out to make its 4.75-acre site a shining example of arts and innovation. 

The Smith Center’s visionaries established the intertwining of education and the arts as one of its core values, viewed equally important to presenting the finest live performances. Years before the center’s star-studded opening-night celebration in 2012, filmed by PBS, The Smith Center’s Education and Outreach team pioneered partnerships with Clark County School District and the nation’s leading national arts education programs. This developed a foundation for educational programming that would serve to foster the love of art in future generations.

Meaningful Milestones

Within its first five years, The Smith Center marked incredible milestones that secured its place in Southern Nevada’s cultural landscape. These include presenting performance icons from across the nation and the world, such as John Legend, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis. It brought the best of Broadway productions to its stage, including some on their first national tours, such as “Kinky Boots,” “The Book of Mormon” and “Wicked.” The center further produced all-new works, including collaborating with Teller and the American Repertory Theater on a reimagined “Tempest,” followed by producing its first original musical, “Idaho! The Comedy Musical.” The Smith Center also partnered with PBS on multiple occasions to film concerts for national broadcast, bringing the center into Americans’ living rooms.

A Lasting Legacy

Today, The Smith Center serves as  a leading performing arts center, ranked as one of the top 10 theaters in the world by Pollstar Magazine, a respected trade publication for the concert industry.  With its three performance spaces — Reynolds Hall, Myron’s Cabaret Jazz and Troesh Studio Theater — The Smith Center offers one the most cutting-edge, acoustically advanced and versatile performing arts campuses in the world. It continues to transform arts and culture in Southern Nevada, by regularly presenting acclaimed performers and Broadway tours that might not otherwise visit Las Vegas. Within its first eight years, its education and outreach initiatives impacted over 700,000 Southern Nevada students and teachers, at no cost to schools.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

  • $150 million: Total amount of donations from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to open The Smith Center

  • 32: Months it took to build The Smith Center

  • 5 million: Total manhours it took to build The Smith Center

  • 2,600+: Total construction workers who built The Smith Center

  • 4,000: Tons of structural steel used to build The Smith Center

  • 2,458: Tons of Indiana limestone built into The Smith Center

  • 29,500: Weight in pounds of the bells in the center’s Carillon tower

  • 170: Height in feet of the Carillon tower

  • 47: Bells in the Carillon tower

  • 23: Boxes on the box tier in The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall theater

  • 25+: Architects, engineers, designers and consultants who planned and designed The Smith Center

  • 373: Windows in The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall structure

  • 2012: Year of The Smith Center’s opening

  • 57: Smith Center Founders who donated $1 million or more to help open The Smith Center

  • 2,050: Seats in the Reynolds Hall theater

  • 240: Seats in the Myron’s Cabaret Jazz club at The Smith Center

  • 200: Seats in The Smith Center’s Troesh Studio Theater

  • 400: Average number of performances each year at The Smith Center

  • 70,000: Average number of students who experience student matinees each year at The Smith Center, at no cost to schools

  • 10,000: Subscribers to The Smith Center’s inaugural Broadway season

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you’ll find answers to common questions about The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.