The first thing I did when I quietly stepped into the June 19 Clark County commission meeting — which was already in progress — was briefly scan the sparsely filled seats for familiar faces. Sliding in on the left, I recognized a handful of local artists: Matthew Couper, Wendy Kveck, Diane Bush, to name a few of the handful I spotted.
On the agenda for yesterday morning’s meeting was article 74, which, if passed, would amend Title 2 of the Clark County Code and establish a Percent for the Arts Program. A percentage allocation from various county fees would channel into Clark County’s general fund, making a potential $600,000 to $675,000 available for public art and art-related programs. (Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani spoke to CityLife recently on the issue.)
Many of the arts advocates present made themselves heard. Artist and art instructor Bobbie Anne Howell spoke passionately regarding the example of CityCenter as a how arts funding makes an impression on a community. “All the things that happen in CityCenter could happen in a big square box: drinking, gambling, entertainment. But what makes that a remarkable place is the design. Its buildings, its textures, its arts, its placement — the experience it’s created. And that’s created through arts and design.”
Another local artist, Chris O’Rourke, occupied the podium, and briefly advocated “keeping our money inside the community to see all local funds exhausted locally before taking those funds to another municipality.” Other representatives of local arts organizations who chimed in during the meeting included Eileen Hayes with the Nevada Opera Theater; Vice President of Nevada Arts Advocates Denny Weddle, and Brian McAnallen with Metro Arts, all with suggestions for implementation and speaking favorably of the measure.
Still, with the possibility of such sizeable funding for local art projects on the table, why wasn’t there a greater showing of local artists? The commission can’t announce a precise time when a certain topic is discussed, and that can deter community advocates or dissenters from showing up. Nonetheless, a solid show of support might offer Commissioner Giunchigliani the public mandate she needs to push the policy towards reality — something the arts community should remember for the July 17 follow-up meeting at the Clark County Government Center.