A community garden in the Las Vegas Arts District? Maybe

Boulder Plaza under construction in 2009.
Photo: Justin Bowen

Five years after Downtown’s sculpture-less sculpture park was installed in the Arts District, the City of Las Vegas has found a way to possibly make it art-centric.

Hoping to create an artist-designed community food garden in Boulder Plaza, the city has applied for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, contending for a $1 million grant. The grant is part of a program geared toward jump-starting temporary art projects in cities with more than 30,000 residents, with the art being a community engaging, creativity enhancing, vibrancy enriching type of project.

Boulder Plaza, the gated and lit space behind the Arts Factory, was designed and built with infrastructure to accommodate a planned Yaacov Agam sculpture of three-dozen lighted, 18-foot towers. That never came to fruition and the plaza, built with $700,000 from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, has mostly sat empty, save for occasional events including First Friday and a temporary exhibit of Jesse Smigel’s giant gnome sculptures.

At least three cities will receive a grant. Finalists for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge will be notified in February. Nancy Deaner, manager of Las Vegas’ Office of Cultural Affairs, says that even without the grant, the city will likely pursue the garden and work in phases. The garden, she says, would include sculpture and artist-designed planter beds, and that 18b artists and business owners would be stakeholders, growing, tending and harvesting the tiny crops.

“It’s a way to activate the space,” Deaner says, “and to also make it a green space.”

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