Susan Bennett, the 2015 recipient of the Hearts for the Arts Award, receives the award and a bouquet of flowers from Mesquite Mayor, Al Litman. Photo by Teri Nehrenz.

Susan Bennett has been instrumental in helping to develop a love for the performing arts in and around Mesquite since coming to live here in 1986 so it was no surprise to many in the arts community that she was the 2015 recipient of the Heats for the Arts Award.

Bennett is the 5th honoree of the Hearts for the Arts and is in good company with past honorees Gwen Olsen, Ann Rice, Jim Wilson and Ed McKenzie, it was with each of them standing by her side that Bennett received her much deserved award.

Overcome with emotion Bennett barely squeaked out a heart-felt and tear filled thank you to the two hundred or more people who came to thank her for her years of support and service to the arts community.

Bennett has been a driving force in developing performing arts skills in children both young and old in the Virgin Valley for more than 20 years as a high school drama teacher, founder of Mesquite Kids on Stage, Director for the Virgin Valley Theatre Group and a founding member of the Mesquite Arts Council.

The Hearts for the Arts is the primary fund raising event for the Mesquite Arts Foundation which was founded by former honoree Jim Wilson.  The event includes a champagne reception, both silent and live auctions and a raffle to raise funds which are later distributed to each and every one of the arts organizations.


The Eureka Town Square was packed on February 11, 2015 with patrons and supporters of the arts in Mesquite when they hosted the 2015 Hearts for the Arts fundraiser for the Mesquite arts community. Photo by Teri Nehrenz.

Raffle and auction items were donated by many of the Virgin Valley Artists and local businesses, they included items such as a one year stay at the Eureka resort, a one week vacation in an international time share and a CasaBlanca golf vacation and several art pieces.

The event was hosted by the Eureka, one of the biggest supporters of the arts in Mesquite. A special thank you went out to the Eureka Resort and Gerri Chasko for going the extra mile to help the arts organizations in a small town such as Mesquite to succeed

It is truly a combined effort to pull off such a huge event but under the leadership of Hearts for the Arts Chairperson Bunny Wiseman, this year’s event was flawlessly executed from beginning to end.

Entertainment was provided by the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra string quartet, the 2007 Ms. Senior Mesquite pageant member Gladys Smith the Mesquite Toes and the Virgin Valley Theatre Group.


Approximately two hundred people showed up at the Eureka Town Square on February 11 for the Hearts for the Arts fundraising dinner to honor the 2015 recipient of the Hearts for the Arts Award, Susan Bennett. Photo by Teri Nehrenz.

A big moment came to 100 people who purchased special raffle tickets toward the end of the evening when Maggie Calhoun, President of the Mesquite Arts Foundation held a drawing for a $2,000 cash and week-long Hawaiian Vacation package donated by Mae Logan and the Mesquite Arts Foundation.  The winner of the Hawaiian vacation was Tracy Johnson.

The 2015 Hearts for the Arts Award dinner was a huge success, attended by those who have a true love and appreciation for the arts.  It is through this kind of community support along with the extra special efforts of people such as the 2015 recipient Susan Bennett, other former recipients and community business such as the Eureka that ensure the arts will continue to thrive in Mesquite and the Virgin Valley.