Tourism Commission prepares to absorb agencies

The Nevada Tourism Commission got its first view of its new-look agency that will include the Museums and History Division, the Nevada Arts Council and the Nevada Indian Commission when it consolidates in October.

Commissioners heard presentations from the three organizations’ representatives at Thursday’s quarterly meeting and formed a search committee to choose a tourism and cultural affairs director.

Larry Friedman, commission interim director, is overseeing the agencies until the Oct. 1 consolidation.

The Legislature approved the consolidation in the last week of the session this month. Consolidation of agencies was a goal Gov. Brian Sandoval outlined before the session.

A committee of leaders from the three groups and two tourism commissioners will review applications for the director, who will have a seat on Sandoval’s Cabinet. The full commission is expected to forward three names for Sandoval’s consideration within two months.

The Museums and History Division, overseen by acting administrator Peter Barton, includes state museums in Las Vegas and Carson City, railroad museums in Boulder City, Ely and Carson City, the Nevada Historical Society in Reno and the Lost City Museum in Overton.

The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Nevada Cultural Affairs Department and headed by Executive Director Susan Boskoff, has offices in Las Vegas and Carson City and administers grants and programs for artists, educators and community organizations with an emphasis on art, folk life and poetry.

The Nevada Indian Commission, headed by Executive Director Sherry Rupert, was established as an intermediary for the state and 28 bands and community councils of 19 federally recognized Indian tribes.

Tourism commissioners expressed some concern about revenue generated by room taxes that by statute are for marketing the state that is being used for the administration of the other groups’ programs.

In other business, the commission received updates on the spring and summer marketing and advertising program and on its brand research project to develop strategies for future advertising.

The state’s ad campaign to attract visitors to rural areas concludes June 30 with 30-second TV ads running in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix and online ads running in those cities and in Salt Lake City, San Diego, Las Vegas and Fresno.

Commissioners suggested putting a greater emphasis on advertising rural Nevada to residents of Las Vegas. Commissioners said California and Utah have spent ad dollars to lure Las Vegans out of state for vacations.

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