Supporting the Arts
Janice Allen, a Las Vegas resident since 1947, is one of the strongest voices of advocacy for The Smith Center. As a Founder, she believed in The Smith Center before it was built and still a dream. She understood the importance of children having access to the arts and wanted to support a mission that could make it happen. Now her dream’s come true, every time she sees the reaction of the students experiencing The Smith Center.
You are recognized as a Founder of The Smith Center. Along with select few others, you committed to The Smith Center before it even opened. What about The Smith Center captured your attention? From the first time I heard about The Smith Center at a Junior League of Las Vegas meeting, I knew I wanted to be a part of this amazing project. I actually felt goosebumps hearing our speaker that evening share the plans for the beautiful new performing arts center. I approached him with my interest to participate. No one needed to convince me (to donate). I did it willingly. I have loved the arts since I was a child, and now it has come full circle for me to be able to see children experience the same.
The education programs at The Smith Center are near and dear to your heart. What is your favorite program and or experience with regards to the arts in education programs? Since the opening, I have been giving to the Education & Outreach programs, because I feel children need to be exposed to the arts at an early age. Candy Schneider (vice president of Education and Outreach) does a superior job bringing excellent programs to the students in Clark County. I have attended many of the performances and have seen how thrilled the children are to see live theater for the first time.
As a Founder you took a special interest in getting to know the other Founders you did not know already, especially one in particular, Tony Hsieh. You two have become very close friends and he often refers to you as his Vegas Grandmother. What about Tony Hsieh intrigued you to get to know him better? Feel free to share a story or experience you’ve had with Tony Hsieh:
Being a Founder of The Smith Center has brought me many benefits, but nothing compares to the new friends I have made like Dianna Bennett and Tony Hsieh. Dianna and Tony’s pictures are next to mine on the wall in the Founders Room. I probably would never have met them if it were not for my involvement with The Smith Center. I am known as Tony's Vegas Grandmother and I love that title! When I met him for the first time, he was intrigued and insisted he see my personal collection of over 200 clocks, so we had a clock party. We’ve had dinners, attended concerts together at his Airstream Park downtown, and Tony even hosted a party for my 88th birthday where he presented me with a beautiful birthday cake onstage.
“Jan(ice) is my new special almost 89-year-old friend and I’m super grateful that we were able to be connected through the staff of The Smith Center and through the Founders room,” said Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and founding member of The Smith Center.
Tony and Diane are only a few of the Founders I have met. I consider the Founders very special and I feel if it were not for their early belief and trust in the future of The Smith Center, none of this would have been possible!