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[The Arts]

Bringing it all together

The new Metro Arts Council wants to make culture easily accessible through the web

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It seems so incredibly simple, you wonder why no one in Las Vegas has done it before. But if it succeeds, it’s sure to be a huge boost for the arts and culture scene, as well as an auspicious start for the newly formed Metro Arts Council.

By next spring or early summer, the organization plans to launch a web portal that will group every arts agency in the Las Vegas Valley into one master calendar. To find out what plays, art exhibits, dance recitals or lectures are being held on any given day, you will only have to click on that particular day. A domain name has not yet been acquired, but Joan Lolmaugh, president of the nonprofit MAC, hopes to get experiencelasvegas.com, similar to the website experiencela.com, after which the group is modeling its portal.

Lolmaugh speaks excitedly as she describes how every agency in the city, commercial and noncommercial, can join the site for free, and how people such as Rossi Ralenkotter of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority have called the idea a “major contribution.” (The LVCVA gave MAC $30,000 to develop the prototype, which will be unveiled at a party on October 6.)

That such a “Well, duh!” notion has taken this long for Las Vegas to grasp is the primary reason MAC now exists. A feasibility study conducted by the Western States Arts Federation in 2004 pointed to the need for an arts-service organization in the Valley (the Allied Arts Council, which had a similar role, folded in 1997), and in 2007 a trio of women—Lolmaugh, retiree Candy Schneider and city employee Nancy Deaner—formally launched MAC.

Deaner and Schneider both wanted Lolmaugh as president. She retired last year after 17 years as the superintendent of cultural affairs for the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department, overseeing such projects as the Zap! Project (in which 10 artists painted power boxes in the city), the Emmy-winning media arts programs on the Wetlands Park and Renaissance Festival and the defunct Folk Art Program to get ethnic communities involved in the arts.

The web portal is MAC’s primary objective, but other goals include doing a “cultural inventory” of the city, commissioning a study to examine the positive impact the arts and culture have on the economy of the Las Vegas Valley and giving grants to local organizations. A nine-member board is now in place, as well as an advisory panel to make sure the web portal is as kick-ass as can be.

“Everyone I’ve talked to says that [MAC] is something we need,” Lolmaugh says over coffee at Starbucks. “We’ll eventually hire a director to represent the council. But in the interim, I’ll probably be doing it.”

With funds in short supply, Lolmaugh could end up filling that role for some time to come. Yes, money makes the world—and web portals—go round, but through a combination of grants, donations and, eventually, retails sales on its website (different from the web portal), Lolmaugh feels MAC should be able to sustain itself rather well.

But even if she has to do it all herself, Lolmaugh is unfazed. After all, it’s not work if it’s something you love. “I do love this community,” she says.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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