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Wednesdays mean more drama for Utah students – why teachers say it’s a good thing

July 13, 2016

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It’s hard to appreciate the beauty of a symphony by glancing at the score. Similarly, plays were not meant to be experienced on paper, but in fully-realized productions. Since 1985, Pioneer Theatre Company (PTC) has been inviting middle and high school students to experience “required reading” brought to life on stage by professional theatre artists at Wednesday student matinees

An Affordable Intro to Great Theatre

Each season, PTC’s student matinees bring great cultural experiences to thousands of young people in our community at little or no cost. A Salt Lake County student who attends every available matinee during his or her high school career can see 28 Broadway-quality productions for only $2 a show. Title I schools attend for free. After each performance, the students participate in talk-backs with some of the same actors seen in current Broadway smash hits like Hamilton and School of Rock.

Clin Eaton, a theatre teacher at Riverton High School, has been bringing students to PTC’s Wednesday student matinees since the school opened in 1999. He calls the matinee program “an institution.”

“The matinee program broadens students’ horizons,” says Eaton, “They’re able to see classics – like Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof – which they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.”

fiddler on the roof 2015

A New Environment - a New Perspective

The funds PTC receives from ZAP are used to underwrite transportation to and from the theatre for all Salt Lake County schools. Bringing students to the controlled environment of the theatre provides them with the opportunity to see a production complete with professional costumes, lighting, and orchestration; and gives them an opportunity to explore not just the material but elements like design and direction.

Rett Neale, a drama and English teacher from West High School explains why support for busing is so important.

“Let me put it this way: it’s like when a visiting teacher comes in – an artist in the classroom or something – and the visiting person says exactly what the teacher has said a hundred times before. But suddenly the students are like, ‘That makes so much sense!’ [Coming to the theatre is important because] changing location changes perspective, and I would say opens perspective.”

Neale says that connecting with peers in the audience and seeing diverse faces on stage has a positive impact on students’ perception of the value of theatre.

“Seeing a show in an audience filled with peers makes what they’re seeing on stage more legitimate. They look around the theatre and see people their own age cheering and applauding at The Count of Monte Cristo and they think, ‘Oh, musicals might be cool.’

“On stage it’s less about seeing someone their own age than someone of the same ethnic background. For example, in Two Dollar Bill seeing a strong African-American character really spoke to the students. Whether or not they agreed with that character’s position, they talked about how they admired the actor and his strong portrayal of the character.”

corey allen and ephie aardema in two dollar bill 2016

Forming Their Own Opinions

Middle school teacher Aimee Rohling attended PTC’s student matinees in high school and now brings her upper level theatre students from Summit Academy every year. She says attending a production is “a great culmination” of what her students learn in the classroom, including transferable skills like public speaking, teamwork, communication, and listening. Her students enjoy the post-show talk-backs where they are always interested in what the actors have to say.

Recalling memorable experiences at matinee performances, Rohling remembers her students’ reactions to Deathtrap and the show’s same-sex kiss that caused a local controversy. “My students loved Deathtrap – they had read about it in the media before we saw it – but seeing the show gave them a chance to form their own opinions,” Rohling says.

students attend a talk-back following a matinee of peter and the starcatcher 2014

At the end of the day, that’s exactly what we hope the program will do – help students think critically about what they’ve seen and interpret it for themselves. By attending matinees, students learn that theatre is a creative lens through which to examine performance, history, psychology, and literature. Most of all, we hope the program encourages students to become lifelong patrons of the arts – returning to find new ways to broaden their perspectives, explore the human experience, or just enjoy an evening out.

In Their Own Words

-Kaitlin Spas

Kaitlin Spas is the Director of Annual Giving for Pioneer Theatre Company. Her interest in theatre was piqued by working in the college scene shop as an undergraduate at Hollins University. She continued to help pay her way through school as a stage hand on the world premiere of Divorce! The Musical while earning her MA in Public Diplomacy from USC. Now she works full time connecting people who create great theatre with those who have the resources to support it. The first show she saw at PTC was the 1994 production of Fiddler on Roof – which was also the opening musical of her first full year working at the theatre. Spooky.

ZAP Ticket Tuesday- SLAC Twilight Concert Series 2016

July 12, 2016

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Ticket Tuesday- SLAC Twilight

2 winners have been chosen to win a pair of tickets good for any show during Salt Lake City Arts Council's 2016 Twilight Concert Series (July 21 - September 1).  Check back for our next giveaway!

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

July 05, 2016

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Ticket Tuesday- Chitty Bang Bang 3 winners have been chosen to win tickets to the Community Theater production of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, presented by West Valley City Arts Council.

Didn't win, but would like to attend this event? Find tickets here.

Check back again soon for more Ticket Tuesday giveaways!

Creative Placemaking in South Salt Lake

June 29, 2016

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How do you define Creative Placemaking? What does it look like, and how are Creative Placemaking strategies being used in South Salt Lake?

Creative Placemaking can be described as “partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shaping the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or regions around arts and cultural activities.  Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.”

-Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa, A White Paper for The Mayor’s Institute on City Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts.

inside south salt lake murals at salt lake tile building 153w 2100s

Why do Creative Placemaking?

The South Salt Lake Arts Council believes that Creative Placemaking can positively impact three aspects of life in communities ranging from rural, small cities, and metropolitan areas. 


People experience favorable liveability outcomes through increased community identity, neighborhood beautification, and improved relations between civic, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations.  All of this leads to personal and community mental health, which is South Salt Lake’s (SSL) #1 priority. 


Another reason Creative Placemaking is right for SSL is because of the unique Places in our city.   We have a diverse mix of residential and light industrial that creates a unique, first-tier suburban community that is just right for creative interventions. 


And Prosperity is also impacted as arts and cultural programs help localities retain local dollars, and entice new creative business, innovative thinkers, and visitors into our city.  SSL promotes the idea to our arts and cultural community that the City is not building our Arts District, they are!  And as a Local Arts Agency, we can help facilitate the relationships and partnerships that will make this possible.

In South Salt Lake

In South Salt Lake, this means rallying everyone, including local artists, creative business owners, residents, volunteers, City employees, our Arts Coalition, and all our other partners, in support of the arts and how the arts can revitalize and bring our community together.  It means bringing everyone into the conversation, thinking outside the box, and finding new ways to attack the giant task of becoming that place that we believe South Salt Lake will one day be -- a unique, hip and cool arts community, unlike anything else in Utah.  And through creative placemaking efforts, we can attack the monumental task of transforming our city with exciting, temporary, short-term, and small scale projects, similar to my favorite concept “Urban Acupuncture”, that will help us achieve our goal.

Arts District

BTW…...South Salt Lake is in the midst of big change.  Our City has created a 25 year master plan to redevelop our downtown.  And a big part of this is the creation of our Arts District and the pledge to support and retain our local artists, creative businesses, and innovative thinkers.  South Salt Lake is becoming a haven for emerging artists and incubator industries because of lower rent and underutilized warehouse and work spaces.  And we believe that they are a vital part of the conversations as we move forward.

Arts Coalition

We started our creative placemaking efforts through the formation of our Arts Coalition, a group of artists, business owners, residents, and other stakeholders with unique talents and diverse perspectives, who all contribute to the shared vision.  The Arts Coalition holds monthly meetings, social gatherings, focus groups, and other networking opportunities to create partnerships and get everyone stoked about what’s happening in South Salt Lake, and to brainstorm and plan for the future.  From these events, we have identified common challenges and priorities, as well as ways to overcome these issues and achieve our goals.

common wealth inside south salt lake

Inside South Salt Lake 

Another Creative Placemaking effort was our Commonwealth: Inside South Salt Lake mural project.  This project, inspired by the Inside Out Project (, consisted of large-scale, black and white photos featuring members of our arts community, and highlighted the ways in which they contribute to our arts and culture sector.  The photos were wheat pasted on several buildings in our downtown Commonwealth Arts District.  The project achieved our goals of generating awareness about the many unique artists, creative businesses, and innovative thinkers in SSL, and creating dialogue among our arts community.  Additionally, our first event to kick off our participation in Gallery Stoll and unveil the Inside South Salt Lake project was a big success as well.

community art

There's More

We are also in the process of other Creative Placemaking projects and strategies.  We are working to create an Arts District Master Plan through a feasibility study that will help us determine strengths, challenges, and strategies in developing our downtown Arts District.  We have been working with our Artist in Residence Roger Whiting in creating welcoming and interactive mosaic murals and sculptures at our community centers.  And we are especially excited about our upcoming innovative Mailbox and Geocache Art Project, working with reclaimed metal artists Fred Conlin and others at SugarPost Metal in SSL in the creation of interactive mailboxes for the creative businesses in our city.  And our successful Utility Box Art Project has become a model for other communities around the Wasatch Front.

utility box art

As the LAA for our community, we know that fulfilling our mission to unite our community through art, and building our Arts District will require much hard work, vision, and perseverance.  But we also recognize that we have the resources we need within our own community to solve our problems.  Through creative placemaking efforts, we can provide engaging arts and cultural opportunities for our residents and visitors as we work to create a welcoming and uniquely creative neighborhood in South Salt Lake.

-Lesly Allen

Lesly Allen is the Arts Council Coordinator for South Salt Lake.  She has a Masters degree in Community Leadership with an emphasis in Arts Administration from Westminster College.  Lesly also serves on the Board of Directors for Utah Arts Alliance and Splore.  Lesly has a passion for public art and using art as a way to unite and revitalize communities.  Lesly is a native of Salt Lake City, has four beautiful daughters, and enjoys skiing, cycling, and riding her motorcycle.


ZAP Ticket Tuesday with JCC

June 28, 2016

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JCC- Ticket Tuesday 2

2 VIP tickets have been awarded for the ST. BOHÉME concert, July 12th presented by the I.J. and Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center (SLC JCC).  

Stay tuned for more #ZAPTicketTuesday giveaways and check out the lineup for the JCC's Summer Concert Series here!  

Taking Your Kids to Spiral Jetty: Five Tips for Parents

June 22, 2016

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umfa spiral jetty backpack

One of our goals while the Utah Museum of Fine Arts ( UMFA) is temporarily closed is to direct art lovers to the incredible examples of Land art that can be found right here in Utah. The UMFA hosted a successful and fun community meet-up at Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels in April, and we’ll host a meet-up at Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty October 1. But don’t wait for us; go out and experience Land art with your family this summer. We’ve got some great tools to help make the most of your adventure—and they’re free!

We’ve partnered with Salt Lake City Public Library to make three Spiral Jetty Family Backpacks available for free checkout at the children's desk at the Main Library downtown. Enjoy a family outing to Spiral Jetty and learn about the history, art, and science around this world-renowned artwork. Fun tools include a microscope, binoculars, compass, thermometer, and maps to guide your interaction with the landscape and science of Great Salt Lake. A sketchbook and worksheets help generate insight to both the artwork and the artist. Basalt rocks (made of foam) let you try your hand at making a little jetty of your own.

umfa spiral jetty backpack for family trip

To get you ready, we asked local painter (and our former grants manager) Una Pett about her Jetty experience with her four-year-old, Luca, and two of his cousins. Here are her top five tips:

  1. Take advantage of the car ride.

    It’s a long drive—about two hours—out to Spiral Jetty, and although the journey is a big part of the experience, we all know long car rides and kids can be a tough combo. Take advantage of this captive time to get comfortable with the backpack’s contents and instructions, so that by the time you arrive, you’re all ready to learn and explore.

    If you’re going without the backpack, download a self guide and an experiential guide from our website. Together, these will help you fully acquaint yourself and your children with Spiral Jetty, so that by the time you arrive, everyone’s eager to explore.

  2. Slow down the experience. 
    “When we first arrived we were so compelled visually by the place that we had to remind ourselves to stop and take a look through the pack,” Una says. “The backpack gave us several points of departure to spark our curiosity and deepen our explorations.”

    Use the backpack or the experiential guide to ask questions, encourage conversation, and help your family make meaningful connections.

    family times at the jetty

  3. Enjoy the time together.
    “At first, the kids needed some help and guidance digging through the backpack and figuring out how to apply everything, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to learn and experience together as a family,” Una says.

    Between the time spent in the car and the time spent at the Jetty, this adventure will offer plenty of quality time with your loved ones, so make the most of it.

    family over looking the spiral jetty

  4. Bring kids of all ages.
    “The great thing is that there’s something for everyone—Millie (7) could sit and sketch on her own; Cleo (5) could pick up salt crystals and examine them more closely; Luca (4) could leaf through the images of the spirals,” Una says. “We found tools that helped each child engage in their own way at their own level.”

    Spiral Jetty can provide a valuable experience for children and adults of any age—whether your child is four or about to leave for college.

  5. Allow for organic experiences.

    The backpack activities are meant to enhance the experience, not to be the whole experience. Use the backpack or guide to understand what a spiral is and why this piece of Land art was named as such—but don’t stop there. “Walk along the spiral; walk on the salt and in the water as far as you can go,” Una says. “This was Luca’s favorite part, and something we all vividly remember to this day.”

    walking in the great salt lake

We want to hear about your family’s Spiral Jetty adventure this summer! Please share your experience on Instagramwith #spiraljettybackpack or tag us @utahmuseumoffinearts. Also, please share your own tips and advice for other parents below.

exploring the jetty

A big thank-you to Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks (ZAP) program for helping to make the UMFA’s free family programs possible.

Emily Armacost is the PR & Marketing Assistant at the UMFA. Born and raised in Finksburg, Maryland, she joined the UMFA staff in 2014 after studying arts administration and fine art at Westminster College. When she’s not at the museum, Emily can be found painting, climbing, or hiking with her dog, Howl.

The Most Lamentable Roman Tragedy of Titus Andronicus

June 21, 2016

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A winner has been chosen to receive two free tickets to Pinnacle Acting Company's performance of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. The performance closes this weekend. If you didn't win, and you're interested in attending, please visit Pinnacle Acting Company's website. 

Keep checking back for future giveaways!

Holladay Arts Council is Healing Through Art

June 15, 2016

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In December
2015, the Holladay
Arts Council
started on a 
great adventure... 

In December 2015, the Holladay Arts Council started on a great adventure with five refugee communities in Salt Lake City. These five groups had four workshops brought to their neighborhoods and community centers. The Arts Council worked closely with the Department of Workforce Services and Utah Division of Arts & Museums to coordinate over 100 refugee participants of all ages and over 60 volunteers. These volunteers included art therapists, art teachers, translators, a professional photographer and many more. The workshops went on for six months. The Holladay Arts Council is teaching artistic skills, building confidence and identifying talented artists whom they can pair with mentors to further develop their art through a program entitled “Healing Through Art.” This program gives refugees living in Utah a chance to tell their stories through art. Refugees receive one-on-one mentoring with local artists at a series of workshops. Therapists are on hand to hear and record their stories, wishes and dreams.

bhutanese community art and bios as the chase home through august 2016

Community Art and Bios at the Chase Home

On June 4, in conjunction with World Refugee Day, a sampling of the artists’ work was displayed at the Chase Home in Liberty Park. This was a great day. Many volunteers where able to witness the artists showing their friends and family their artwork. For many of the refugees, this was the first time -- in America -- they publicly shared their creations. It was very heartwarming. These artworks will be on display through August 2016.

world refugee day

Hear Stories, Build Relationships

On June 18, the Holladay Arts Council will hold a free reception at the Holladay City Hall from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. It is for the artists, the public, and the media (translators will be on hand). We hope this initiates a dialogue to build a stronger, integrated community. Along with their art and biographies there will be music and dancing from three of the refugee communities -- as well as refreshments. This will be a time to enjoy and celebrate the many cultures that make up our community.

bhutanese artists and craig fisher the event chair and arts council chair

Looking Forward

The arts council is making plans include other art councils to help expand and continue the reach again next year. It has been an amazing journey and one we couldn’t have done without the vision, love for and countless hours donated to the Holladay Arts Council by Craig Fisher. After starting the project, he also became the Holladay Arts Council Chair. It has been so amazing to watch his selflessness flow through our council, city and the other programs who have helped along the way.  

-Margo Richards, Holladay Arts, Arts Council Coordinator

See 1776 with the whole family

June 14, 2016

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celebrate 1776 with zap ticket tuesday

The musical, 1776, celebrates the Declaration of Independence. Bring your whole family to begin your July festivities. Two winners received five free tickets to the performance (June 28 - July 2). If you didn't win this time, we hope you keep checking back for future giveaways. 

You can also learn more about purchasing tickets by calling Murray City Cultural Arts at 801-264-2614.

Murray City Cultural Arts is partially funded through a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks. 

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway with Utah Arts Festival

June 07, 2016

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UAF Ticket Tuesday Resized

Ten winners have been chosen to receive four tickets for one day's entry to the Utah Arts Festival (June 23-26). The Utah Arts Festival is funded in part by a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks. To learn more, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Utah Arts Festival website. To celebrate 40 year of the festival, entry will be free on Thursday!

If you didn't win this time, we hope you'll continue to check back for future ticket giveaways. 

Have fun!