Kauffman is a recent graduate from the SUU Master of Fine Arts, Arts
Administration program. Nominated by her
supervisor from a summer internship at Repertory Dance Theatre, they were excited and inspired by
Chelsea’s “authenticity, engagement, innovation, vision and
effectiveness.” She was able to
accomplish a massive amount for RDT and clearly left a lasting, positive
impression through her work there. We
are honored to present her with our first Outstanding Salt Lake Emerging Arts
Here is more about our award winner, Chelsea:
When did you fall in love with the arts?
I grew up in a home full of a passion for music, creativity, and
talent. I sang, played the saxophone and guitar, and danced. At 14, I
discovered theater and it was then that I truly fell in love with the arts.
Being involved in theatre and music provided me with a safe space to be myself,
feel comforted, and have a home and a family to support me.
How have you seen the positive effects of the
arts in your life or in the Salt Lake County?
When I was 14 my family was
struggling financially and ended up homeless for quite some time. From there, I
faced foster care, my parents' divorce, and my mother's severe depression. I
struggled to believe in myself and do my best, but the arts inspired me to
change my stars. The arts changes lives. It provided me with peace, community
and hope. I owe it to the arts that I am still here today.
What do you imagine the arts community could
look like in Salt Lake?
I hope that the arts become available and life-changing for
low-income families and particularly for those fighting emotional battles. I
know there are many economic, political, spiritual, and economic challenges for
the lives of many in Salt Lake. The arts provide a refuge. It is a gathering
place for understanding, comfort, and unity. I believe the arts can be an
answer for many who are lost and alone.
What are some steps for getting there?
To get there, we can open
our doors and reach out to organizations that fight for those who feel lost and
alone. To do this, we must be accessible and provide a place of welcome. This
does not just include attendance to our performances and galleries, but the
importance of the arts in life at an early age, how it can transform learning,
and its ability to prompt expression and discussion about our lives. The arts
can help us find and apply answers.
How has your work impacted the Salt Lake
My work in the Salt Lake
community hasn't gone on for very long but my story and passion has driven me
forward. Because of my life experiences, I am able to look at things from the
outside and see the forest from the trees. With this, I apply my organizational
skills and become a power house that challenges and pushes organizations to
reach their full potential. I analyze every facet of arts administration in
hopes that we continue to fulfill our mission as we move towards our vision. I
know that my story is an example of the strength of the arts and my skills are
what keeps them doing the good that they do.
What energizes you in your work? What is your
I am energized by new
things and challenges as I love to learn and understand life a bit more. In my
work, I hope to magnify the many purposes of the arts, my passion for the arts,
and I hope to give back to the community what the arts have given me.
Describe a time when you took a risk. What
inspired you to take that risk? And what was the result?
I took quite a risk
attending graduate school. Accumulating student loan debt and taking time off
of a consistent income was something that frightened me financially. I refused
to repeat the past. Additionally, there is a misconception that going into the
arts will yield little financial reward. I knew that if I didn't do what I
loved, I would regret it for most of my life. I didn't want to sacrifice my
heart and passion because of my fears. The arts helped me defeat my fears once
and it will continue to give me comfort. Graduate school was a sacrifice. I was
truly blessed by a supportive husband that helped me complete my studies
without worrying about finances. In the end, I survived. I finished
graduate school. And now I have a wealth of arts administration knowledge and
experience to advance the work and my personal mission of the arts.
Chelsea was interviewed by Rachel Cook.
Cook is a Masters Candidate with SUU Arts Administration and a member of the Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professionals advisory committee. She loves art, the mountains, and spends her spare
time with her husband.
Learn more about the Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professionals Recognition Program.