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New UNLV And Nevada Conservatory Theatre Leader Focuses on Community


Theatre at UNLV has been undergoing some changes, and Norma Saldivar is at the center of them.

Saldivar is the new chair of the Theatre Department. She has also taken over the role of artistic director of Nevada Conservatory Theatre, with the departure of Chris Edwards this summer.

Saldivar received her theatre education in Chicago, but for the past several years she has been working at the Arts Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She said she left the long-time job at Madison because it was time for a change. Saldivar arrived in Las Vegas in the middle of the summer, which she admits was a shock.

“I think its spectacular. I’m learning. I’m still exploring. It’s a really diverse community and I’m grateful for that," she said.

Originally, she was hired to be the chair of the department and the executive director of the conservatory theater, but since Edwards departure, she now both the artistic director and the executive director. 

In Wisconsin, one of Saldivar's biggest accomplishment was fostering interdisciplinary relationships, but not just between the fine arts departments but between science and arts departments.

She specifically worked to bring the theatre arts and medicine together.

“The idea of how theater arts can impact outside of what is conventional work within our field,” she said, “As we move forward, theater arts can be really impactful outside of the art form.”

She said theatre arts can be used by health professionals and other scientists to better communicate.

One of the first things on Saldivar's agenda as artistic director is to select the plays for the NCT's season. While it seems like a daunting task, she said the theatre's mission helps narrow the focus.

“What’s great about being at UNLV and being in an educational setting is that our mission is really clear," she said, "It’s a multipronged mission but it’s a very clear mission and we start with the students.”

She said she is focused on making sure students are getting a variety of experiences whether that's on stage or behind the scenes.

The Strip with its spectacular shows and professional entertainment opportunities is just blocks from campus. Salvidor believes the students need to be ready for that level of professionalism.

“We need to give them experiences that prepare them to be able to walk into those situations,” she said.




Norma Saldivar, chair, UNLV Theatre and Producing Director of Nevada Conservatory Theatre

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)