Zoo, Arts & Parks Blog
A Tier II Update
It was a whirlwind year for ZAP Tier II! We got a record-breaking number of applications. We are grateful we're able to support so many of the amazing arts and culture groups in Salt Lake County. It really is a great place to live!
Utah Film Center Artistic Director on Founding Tumbleweeds
It’s hard to believe the Tumbleweeds Film
Festival is turning five this year.
It’s been half a decade of introducing kids to the joys of international cinema, collaborating with local organizations to present workshops and interesting activities for kids, and it feels like it only began yesterday.
I moved to Utah from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after working with the Toronto International Film Festival Group in the early 2000’s to manage Sundance Institute’s Media Relations efforts and the Sundance Film Festival Press Office. I never planned on staying in Utah. Then I met a lovely
woman and convinced her to marry me, and that was it—we were going to call Utah home.
What could I do?
After working the 2007 Sundance Film Festival I started to think about Salt Lake City and what I personally could be doing to make our community better. Having a background in film festivals and film-related events, I naturally gravitated in that direction. I reflected on my past
experiences and thought about the most rewarding moments I had while working for two of the biggest film festival organizations in the world—
Sundance Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
One of the most standout experiences for me through my career was the Sprockets Film Festival for Children (now TIFF Kids). Until my work with Sprockets, I didn’t really pay much attention to foreign language and independent films for kids. My first Sprockets festival experience
was a revelation. I was at a film screening at 9am on a Saturday morning with a cinema full of 4-7 year olds, watching an animated film from Sweden, presented in Swedish with English subtitles, and enjoying it as much as they would enjoy a Disney movie.
Tumbleweeds is born.
The film was great, but the real take-away for me was how fully the kids in the audience embraced it, even with subtitles (read aloud over the cinema’s sound system). After recalling this time, it dawned on me that this was something we were missing in Salt Lake City. Our community has
a wonderful and vibrant film culture, nurtured by Sundance, local film production, and film exhibition organizations like the
Utah Film Center. But with all of this film activity in SLC, there wasn’t anything specifically focused on younger audiences -- and thus the idea for Tumbleweeds was born.
At the time, the only consistent cinema for younger audiences was what was being offered at the local multiplex. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a cinema snob. I love some of the movies coming out of Hollywood as much as I love indie and foreign films. I also love films from
Disney and Pixar. It’s not about offering something better; it’s about offering something different. It’s about providing choice. And it’s about introducing young audiences to stories from different countries, in different languages, that transcend geographical, cultural, and language barriers.
With all that in mind, I started pitching the idea to people to get a sense of whether or not they thought this was a good idea. Most people I talked to reacted with skepticism and pessimism. Responses ranged from, “kids won’t like films with subtitles,” to “people have tried to
launch something similar and it didn’t work.” Regardless of their reaction I was undeterred.
The idea of Tumbleweeds really started to become a reality when I met Geralyn Dreyfous, founder of the Utah Film Center, current Board Chair, and film producer extraordinaire, and talked with her about launching this program. She immediately embraced the idea and has been
incredibly supportive ever since. She saw, as I did, that Salt Lake and Utah were missing this type of festival as part of the state’s arts and culture ecosystem. She offered to bring the Tumbleweeds idea into the Utah Film Center’s program and to dedicate resources to make the Festival a reality. After a
couple of years of planning and fundraising, Utah Film Center launched the first Tumbleweeds Film Festival in April 2010.
Tumbleweeds is growing up.
Since 2010, we’ve shown 72 international and US feature films and 18 short film programs, featuring work from around the world, to almost 10,000 attendees. The Festival has become one of the Utah Film Center’s core programs. In addition to the annual film festival we’ve expanded
our program to include monthly Tumbleweeds screenings at the Main Branch of the City Library, the Viridian Center, Sorenson Unity Center, Orem Public Library and the King Koal Theater in Price. We’ve presented films to over 19,000 students as part of our School Field Trip program, where teachers can bring
their classes to a film at one of our screening venues. And last but not least, we’ve partnered with Sundance Institute for the last two years to present “Sundance Kids,” a program for kids at the Sundance Film Festival.
I apologize if I’ve bored you with these numbers, but it’s exciting for me to talk about how Tumbleweeds has evolved. I get even more excited about what this means for the future.
So, what’s in store for the next 5 years? Possibly launching annual mini-Tumbleweeds festivals in select communities around the state, like Utah Film Center did in Moab in 2014, expanding the locations of our monthly screenings, developing an industry component to the festival to
encourage the production of indie kids films, and launching a film distribution arm to help bring some of the wonderful films from around the world that we’ve presented at Tumbleweeds, to audiences across the country.
I could go on and on about Tumbleweeds because it’s my passion, but I’ll wrap it up…for now…by saying thank you to all of the people who have supported, participated and sponsored the Festival including all of my colleagues past and present without whose efforts Tumbleweeds would
not exist today.
Tumbleweeds is unique.
There are a lot of film options in Salt Lake City, but none other than Tumbleweeds offers kids (and parents) the chance to see a 3D film from France about a fierce struggle between two ant colonies, or a touching film from India about a young, blind boy and his journey to regain
his sight, or a documentary about little league baseball players from Uganda. These are but three of the films we’re showing this year’s Tumbleweeds Film Festival and just a taste of what our programming has to offer. Come down to the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center to experience this all for yourself—I’m
happy to share it.
See you at the movies!
Founder /Director - Tumbleweeds Film Festival; Artistic Director - Utah Film Center
Tumbleweeds Film Festival runs September 25 - 27.
Local Stories, Local Stage
Since 1991, Plan-B Theatre Company has developed and produced unique and socially conscious theatre with a focus on new plays by Utah playwrights.
We share stories with local points of view as well as global stories from a local perspective. We strive to create and nourish a pool of local playwrights to rival that found in any other city in the country.
As noted by the
Dramatists Guild of America, Plan-B is the only professional theatre company in the United States producing full seasons of new work by local playwrights. We have produced 83 world premieres thus far in our history.
We believe the best way to serve our community is to reflect it onstage—to create conversation, to provide opportunities for patrons to think a little differently, to consider points of view that may previously have been foreign, to listen in a way they may not have before.
Every decision we make ties to/springs from our mission to develop and produce unique and socially conscious theatre with a focus on new plays by Utah playwrights. We are honored to be able to share stories we are passionate about in a place that we love.
And we have been
feeling the love in 2015!
In April we were named ‘Best Theatre Company’ by QSaltLake for the 11th year in a row. In May we received the Governor’s Organization Leadership in the Arts Award. In June we received Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s Artist Award for Service to the Arts by an Organization. And just today, we received two City Weekly Best
of Utah ARTs Awards for our world premiere of Carleton Bluford’s MAMA: Best Original Play (which we have won 8 of the past 10 seasons) and Best Local Theatre Production (which we have won 14 of the past 15 seasons).
Pretty heady, humbling stuff for a company operating on an annual budget of $250,000.
Our unique and innovative way of telling stories will be on full display with the four world premieres by Utah playwrights that comprise our 2015/16, Silver Anniversary season:
Eric Samuelsen’s THE KREUTZER SONATA, October 18-November 9 – A cautionary tale of rage, revenge and remorse interwoven with Beethoven’s sonata in a co-production with
NOVA Chamber Music Series.
Rob Tennant’s BOOKSMART, December 3-13 – A dark comedy about working retail at the holidays and sticking it to The Man, provoking change and taking action—by doing nothing. In partnership with
The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists.
Elaine Jarvik’s BASED ON A TRUE STORY, February 25-March 6 – A tale of comfort, doubt and the power and perils of narrative. With time travel. And chocolate donuts.
Jenifer Nii & David Evanoff’s KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, March 31-April 10 – A quest for self-acceptance in a culture focused on perfection … and one Mormon housewife's desire to do it in drag. Plan-B’s first original musical.
http://planbtheatre.org for details – see you at the theatre!
And below, just for fun, are some thoughts about Plan-B from artists who have worked with us:
Plan-B is part of my soul.
Jerry Rapier, Producing Director
Plan-B is the spark that lights the fire in me.
Cheryl Ann Cluff, Managing Director
Plan-B is home.
Plan-B is a place where artists live, where ideas can thrive.
Plan-B is a voice that’s relevant to where I live, when I’m living, and who I’m living with.
Plan-B means a home for Utah writers, a stage for Utah stories.
Plan-B means a life buoy thrown to a drowning man.
Plan-B is a spiritual home to me.
Matthew Ivan Bennett
Plan-B means theatre that never disappoints.
Carol Lynn Pearson
Plan-B is Utah’s home for socially conscious theatre.
Plan-B is locally-sourced handmade artisanal theatre.
Plan-B is an incubator in which new stories and familiar characters can thrive.
Melissa Leilani Larson
Plan-B is the embrace of risk and the support of unique voices which means opportunity.
Plan-B is family.
Plan-B is home.
Plan-B is home.
Plan-B is essential to the community, pushing boundaries, has changed my life for the better, encouraged and nurtured me artistically . . . and they’re just a bunch of super sweet and generous people.
Plan-B is the opportunity to explore and challenge yourself.
Plan-B means making what was hope a reality.
Plan-B means there’s always another way to see things.
Plan-B means community.
Plan-B means togetherness.
Daisy Blake Perry
Plan-B is a bold, daring and supportive home for SLC actors and playwrights.
Plan-B means a place for challenging, engaging, and imaginative theatre. It’s a gem!
Plan-B is the best theatre company in Utah providing socially conscious theatre at an incredible value.
Plan-B means fearlessness.
Plan-B means unbelievable opportunities.
Plan-B is thought-provoking and world-bettering.
Plan-B is a theatrical amplifier exposing thought-provoking and original works by local artists to Utah audiences and beyond.
Plan-B is where anyone can learn to expand their mind, heart, and soul.
Plan-B is theatre that makes me think for a week.
Plan-B is a work of art that challenges me.
Plan-B makes me think, makes me feel, makes me laugh . . . and it makes me want to stay up late drinking Moscow Mules talking about theatre and serious shit (stuff).
Plan-B means brave, new theatre.
Plan-B is a supportive team that puts story first.
Plan-B means challenging theatre – a force that moves you in the right direction.
Plan B is a homegrown product and one to be proud of. It assures me of good, intimate theatre with provocative new plays by local playwrights, performed by brilliant local actors, sets/sound/designs by sensitive local craftsmen, and directed by innovative local directors. And the price of the ticket is affordable. It doesn’t get better than that!
Anne Cullimore Decker
Plan-B is a generous and nurturing artistic environment that respects and stretches the artists and audiences that step inside.
Plan-B is part of the heart of our community. It brings joy, thought and hope.
Plan-B means opportunity and inspiration.
Plan-B is a place where theatre artists in our community can come together to make their very best offerings.
Plan-B is an organization that takes its community role seriously, even to the level of young children. They have sponsored opportunities for young people to learn about and empathize with the condition of bullying in today’s schools. This is an essential role to play when so many kids are struggling with their emerging identities in a school system that struggles to understand, acknowledge, and affirm difference. Plan-B provides a forum for young adults to engage with the topic of bullying and reflect on their place in eradicating it.
Plan-B is always thought-provoking scripts that are well acted.
Plan-B means exciting, innovative, and intimate theatre.
Plan-B means courage.
Plan-B is an important part of my SLC.
Plan-B means mental stimulus to me.
Plan-B is telling stories without precedent.
Phillip R. Lowe
Plan-B means thought-provoking theatre.
Plan-B means enlightenment.
Plan-B is theatre with substance.
Plan-B means life-changing experiences for me.
Plan-B means reshaping artistic and conversational boundaries for me.
Martine Kei Green-Rogers
Plan-B is creativity on steroids.
Plan-B is the only socially-relevant stage to me.
Plan-B shows me the human condition in stories that I would not otherwise encounter. I have to think and stretch my mind.
Plan-B means I get thought-provoking theatre by local Utah playwrights and actors.
Plan-B means thought-provoking scripts, fearless acting, confident directing, innovative sets and always the experience of going home with new questions and answers, new thoughts in my head and new admiration for the theatre.
Plan-B is honest and artful storytelling.
Plan-B means outstanding opportunities for actors, playwrights, artists, and audiences.
Charles Lynn Frost
Plan-B is a path to discovery.
Plan-B means home grown: local actors, local playwrights, global conversations. But mostly Plan-B means “Theatre Christmas.”
Plan-B is inspirational.
Plan-B is a relevant, artistic voice for our unique community and culture.
Plan-B means learning something new.
Plan-B means a delightfully unsettling theatre experience.
Jerry Rapier has been Producing Director of
Plan-B Theatre Company since 2000. He has directed 30+ productions for the
company. He and his husband Kirt celebrate their 20th anniversary this
December. Their lives are completely run by their soon-to-be-three-year-old son
Here in Utah, most of us
appreciate the end of summer as much as we dread it.
It’s so nice to get a reprieve from the heat and get a cool night’s rest. At the same time, as the temperature changes, we feel fall in the air and are reminded of the fact that winter comes too soon. The shorter days and those cools evenings out on the
deck will soon be just a great memory.
I sometimes think I ought to move someplace that is warmer all year. Would I miss the change of seasons that much? Do I really need the fire pit and hot cocoa while we carve jack-o’- lanterns? Oh, and don’t forget that I love a white Christmas. Okay, so I’m not
going anywhere really soon. I love living in Utah.
Because of an amazing Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks Local Arts Agency grant and the city’s match of funds, I am able to rub shoulders with an amazingly talented and creative group of people. The arts council had their Blue Moon Arts Festival
this year on an actual blue moon. And we somehow managed to have it without rain! The event was held in the heart of the city behind the city offices and was attended by double the anticipated number of people. The arts council really
felt rewarded for all their efforts this year. The Blue Moon Festival was a one night event that included 3 local and international bands, food and dessert trucks, over 45 vendors and artists -- and it even ended with fireworks. The arts council and city worked hard -- along with 80 amazing volunteers -- to bring this
growing event to the neighborhood in Holladay. And they have already started planning next year!
But we're not ready for summer to end just yet.
The Holladay Arts Council is going to stretch the summer fun into September. We will celebrate international
Talk Like a Pirate Day, because “Summer Forever” sounds like a good idea, at least for a couple more weeks. We will be joining efforts with Holladay Library on September 19 from 10:00am to noon in the Pavilion at the City of Holladay. There will be crafts for the kids,
readings, poetry contest awards, and all poetry entries will be on display. Wear your pirate costume or “walk the plank.” Enter the poetry contest at Holladay Library by September 12th.
See our website for more information.
Margo Richards is the Coordinator for the City of Holladay’s
Arts Council. She has had many years of experience in managing volunteers,
accounting, fundraising and creating and balancing budgets. Her love of the
arts and working with people in her community make this her dream job. She
lives in Holladay with her husband, and she has two incredible grown children.
Salt Lake City: Through a Dancer’s Eyes
My name is Tiana Lovett, and I'm from California. I’ve been in Salt Lake City for a year now, and I’ve discovered something: Salt Lake is brimming with art, culture and dance in a way unlike what I’ve experienced in any other city. I am a ballet dancer and have trained in the academies of both Houston Ballet, and Salt Lake’s own Ballet West. Knowing this, you must understand why I was excited to see so many dance companies in Utah.
I have loved seeing shows from different companies and schools. Seeing as many as I have, I've noticed just how unique each company is. I’ve decided to highlight two companies:
Repertory Dance Theatre and
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.
Repertory Dance Theatre
Repertory Dance Theatre is a classical modern dance company located at the
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. I had a wonderful time watching them perform. The first time I saw them, the bill was very diverse -- with a mixture of serious and humorous pieces that really pleased the audience. It seemed like everyone fell in love with the company whether they had an artistic background or not.
The next time I watched their performance was at the
Utah Arts Festival. This time the bill was targeted toward people with a greater understanding of art and contained fewer humorous pieces. The performance was amazing. It remained diverse in style and energy. They danced classics and explored new techniques. Overall, Repertory Dance Company is a diamond in the heart of Salt Lake, and I will definitely be getting season tickets.
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is a contemporary dance company also located at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. I've seen the company perform only once, but I definitely plan to go again. The bill contained two works: one from a guest artist and the other from the company’s artistic director
Daniel Charon. The first was very unique; I could not even grasp the meaning of it -- which I really appreciated. The second piece was beautiful to watch. The music vibrated, and the dancers performed with so much energy and life.
I saw one of the Ririe-Woodbury dancers perform when
Bradley Beaks put on his own show at the
Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. I was incredibly impressed. His movement was so new and creative. Each piece flowed beautifully into the next, ending on an energetic work with dancers from The University of Utah, Repertory Dance Theatre, Ririe-Woodbury and more. I will be sure to look out for Ririe-Woodbury and its dancers in the future; they are capable of fantastic things.
After I compared the companies from the outside, I took a closer look into the everyday life of the dancers. I interviewed one dancer from each company and even sat in on one of Repertory Dance Theater’s rehearsals.
How long have you been with Repertory Dance Theatre?
Tyler: I have been dancing with Repertory Dance Theatre for three years now and just began my fourth season with them this summer.
What do you do everyday at RDT?
Tyler: At RDT we work 9 A.M. to 4 P.M., Monday through Friday. A typical day begins with an hour and a half technique class. Until 1 P.M., we are either learning, rehearsing, or creating new dances. From 1 to 2 P.M., we have lunch, and then we rehearse more from 2 to 4 P.M. On a non-typical day, we will go out to elementary schools and high schools to perform for them and teach them movement-based classes as a part of our Arts in Education mission.
What is your favorite aspect working for this company?
Tyler: My favorite part about working with Repertory Dance Theatre is being given the opportunity to work with so many different choreographers. Each choreographer comes with their own style of movement and teaching which allows us to grow in many different forms of dance. In a single performance, an audience member may get to witness four to five varieties of modern dance before the night ends. As a dancer, it’s very exciting to get to be a part of that experience with the audience.
What choreography are you currently working on?
Tyler: We are currently working with Claire Porter, a comedic and text-based dance choreographer. She is creating a work on RDT that will premiere in our November performance. Our upcoming performance, “Ritual,” is October 1-3 at the Rose Wagner Theater.
What is RDT's mission?
Tyler: Repertory Dance Theatre’s mission is the dedication to the creation, performance, perpetuation, and appreciation of modern dance. RDT is the oldest and most successful repertory dance company in the United States. We preserve America’s historical dance roots while also maintaining a progressive nature with the creation of new and contemporary works. We believe in art that is profound and thrilling and art that also challenges you.
What is special about Repertory Dance Theatre that other companies might not have?
Tyler: There are so many special things I could say about RDT and my personal experience with the company. But if I could only pick one, I would say one of the most unique things about RDT is how we learn historical works. Whether we are learning a piece choreographed by José Limón, Michio Itō, or Merce Cunningham, we almost always work with and learn from someone who has worked directly with the choreographer themselves. We are also very blessed to get to learn so many of our historical works from our very own artistic director, Linda C. Smith, for this very reason. As a dancer, this helps me in ways I can’t measure because of how “close” the information is that is being passed down to us. This way of learning helps us maintain the integrity of any particular style so that when we do perform someone else’s work we honor it by doing our absolute best to perform it as close to the original as we possibly can.
How long have you been with RW?
Yebel: I am currently in my third season with Ririe-Woodbury
What do you do everyday at RW?
Yebel: Our typical work day is eight hours. We start with a contemporary technique class from 9 to 10:30 A.M. We then take a short break and move on to rehearsals. This is when we are either preparing for an upcoming tour, or a local performance. We take an hour for lunch at 1 P.M. After lunch, we often begin, or continue to work on, a creative process for a new piece by the artistic director Daniel Charon. However, two or three times a year, when a commissioned choreographer is in town setting a new work on the company, we dedicate full days solely to that artist-in-residence.
What is your favorite aspect working for this company?
Yebel: Ririe-Woodbury is really a gem among professional dance companies around the nation. It is one of the last few companies that continue to offer full-time contracts with health benefits to their dancers. RW also commissions at least two choreographers a year to set new work on the company. It is very exciting to be part of a company that maintains such a high level of professionalism and works with choreographers that are sought out for in places like Chicago, New York, and California.
What choreography are you currently working on?
Yebel: We recently finished working with Adam Barruch. He was with us for two weeks setting a new piece titled Prima Materia, which will premiere this September as a part of our fall season performance. Now we will be putting together an evening of Nikoli works that will be performed for an eight-run season at the Joyce Theatre this coming February.
What is RW's mission?
Yebel: Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is committed to furthering contemporary dance as an accessible and valued art form through performance and dance education that raise the standards, deepen the understanding and promote personal connections with dance.
If you've worked with other companies, what is special about RW that you haven't experienced with another company?
Yebel: I worked with a professional dance company in Mexico for five years and it was a wonderful experience. Being in Ririe-Woodbury however, has expanded my knowledge and experience in dance education. Outreach, and taking dance to small communities, to places where children would not see live dance otherwise, has definitely made a mark on me. I realize now how important it is to continue dance education and share the same love that the company's founders shared with us dancers -- in getting dance out there and making it an accessible art form to everyone.
Both companies put on beautiful performances that are inspiring and mesmerizing. If you'd like to see their upcoming shows, you can find further information below.
Repertory Dance Theatre: Ritual, October 1-3, 2015
Ririe-Woodbury: Fall season, September 17-19, 2015
Lovett has trained in the academies of Houston Ballet and Ballet West. She was
fortunate to train under Claudio Munoz director of Houston Ballet 2, Jeff
Rodgers former principal dancer with Ballet West, and more. Tiana is also a
grand prize winner of the Spotlight Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in
the ballet category.