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Powder Skiing and Salsa

May 24, 2016

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Spicing it up. 

When people think of Alta, they envision powder skiing in the winter and endless fields of wildflowers in the summer. Moose ambling along the road and copious fat snowflakes falling on the road. They probably don’t think about salsa. Salsa making competitions and salsa dancing, that is. But those are just a few of the unique offerings that Alta Community Enrichment (“ACE”) brings into the tiny town of Alta to help spice things up for our community. Founded in 1996, ACE is a local art non-profit committed to bringing arts, cultural and educational opportunities to the community of Alta. Offering events both large and small ACE, strives to meet the needs of our mountain community.

alta wildflowers

Community is the key ingredient. 

Alta’s community extends beyond the several hundred residents and strives to reach out to the many who call Alta their home away from home in the mountains. The community is full of teachers, artists, farmers, accountants, lawyers, scientists, and of course, ski bums. Each brings a love and appreciation of arts, culture and education with a unique point of view. Those views are weaved together by a shared love of the majestic mountain environment of Alta. Our events are diverse enough to bring out folks of all ages, and no experience is required to participate in any event.

community craft night in the canyon

Beyond Salsa. 

ACE offers a diverse lineup of programming. From small events, such as craft-making classes to larger events, such as the multi-day Snowflake Festival, ACE caters to the needs of our community. Yoga with stunning views of Alta Ski Area? Check. A full day of skiing followed by kimchi-making? Check. Friendly familiar faces and friendly new faces? Check. Events at little to no cost? Check. ACE strives to offer new events and old favorites and is always asking our community about their interests and ideas for new programs.

craft examples

Giving Back.

ACE doesn’t stop at events and is proud of the support we provide for members of our community. ACE helps provide outreach for the Alta K-8 one room public classroom by hosting art, dance, language arts, science and music teachers, museum, educational, dance and theater field trips to Salt Lake City and arranging extracurricular art and dance activities.  ACE also believes in paying it forward and supports the artistic, cultural and educational endeavors of local community members by offering four grants, the Artist Grant, the WEXL Education Grant, the Young Guns Grant and the Community Service Grant.

bird craft

Want to salsa?

All of ACE’s programs are open to everyone and are either free or offered at a very low cost thanks to generous funding from organizations like Salt Lake County Zoo Arts & Parks. We love seeing new faces. Learn more about ACE and see our full list of events at, email us at, follow us on facebook and instagram too.  

An example of an ACE Craft Night 

string art how to

String Art How To

You will need a few things: an image, string, nails and wood.

  • String. We use colored embroidery floss found at craft stores.
  • Nails. Small, regular nails – colored ones make it fun!
  • Wood. Any kind of wood, any thickness – as long as it is thick enough for your nails. Have the hard ware store cut it to size for you!  We pre-painted them too.
  • Image. Words? A heart? A star? Let your imagination guide you.


Find an image or word you like on your computer and print it to size or smaller of your wood block.

Place design.

Place your printed design on the block. It can be centered, off centered, to the right, whatever makes you happy. Tape the corners.

Time to hammer the nails into wood block.

This can get loud. Following your printed image edge, place nails along edge about ¼ inch apart or as close together as you want, the more nails the more interesting!  Hammer each nail until about ¼ above the surface of the wood. Watch your fingers!

Remove the paper image.

Once all your nails are in, pull off the paper. 

Now for string design thoughts. 

Eclectic or symmetric? Different color strings or a single color? The choice is hard. 

Get tied up. 

Find the end of your string, choose a starting nail and tie a knot around that nail.

Time to weave.

Choose if you want to directly across from the starting nail or diagonal or up or down or side to side – there is no right or wrong way! Take the string on the starting nail and go to next chosen nail, wrap the string around in one loop and then choose your next nail.  Continue until you are happy with your design.  When you are at the end of the string, knot the string to the nail.

Your art masterpiece is finished!

Written in collaboration.

-Claire Woodman, ACE Board
Claire is a resident of Alta and has enthusiastically attended ACE events for almost a decade. As the newest member of the board, Claire brings her love for ACE to grant and promotional writing, as well as strategic planning efforts. Claire is a environmental and transportation planner for Parametrix, and spends her free time skiing, mountain biking, and hiking.

-Sara Gibbs, ACE Executive Director
Sara moved to Utah in 1996 for the deep powder snow. She became involved with ACE by attending events and then was asked to join the Board of Directors. In 2004 she accepted a job with ACE as the Programming and Marketing Director. In July of 2006, she was appointed the job as Executive Director and has stayed ever since. Sara loves making art, being outdoors, snowboarding, biking and Jake the dog.

Salt Lake Acting Company on Engaging its Youngest Audiences

May 20, 2016

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Salt Lake Acting Company has a reputation for taking big, bold, theatrical risks. In the 2009-2010 season, we took a different kind of risk – children’s theatre. At that time, interim executive director Nancy Borgenicht saw a need in our community for professional theatre for children. We produced GO, DOG. GO! based on the beloved book by P.D. Eastman and seven years later, our annual children’s play is one of the highlights of each season. 

a year with frog and toad

Selecting the Plays

There is a whole world of imaginative, engaging children’s theatre out there, and with just one slot to fill each year, we are presented with some tough choices when it comes to selecting which children’s plays to produce. One vital component of our children’s programming is that the play be based on a book. This allows SLAC – through study guides, community outreach, and relationships with educators – to connect literacy with theatre, filling an ever-widening gap in public arts education.

Our children’s plays up to this point have included:

  • GO, DOG. GO! by Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz, based on the book by P.D. Eastman
  • IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE by Jody Davidson, based on the book by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • HOW I BECAME A PIRATE by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, based on the book by Melinda Long
  • CLICK CLACK MOO: COWS THAT TYPE by James E. Grote and George Howe, based on the book by Doreen Cronin
  • THE CAT IN THE HAT by Katie Mitchell, based on the book by Dr. Seuss
  • A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD by Willie and Robert Reale, based on the books by Arnold Lobel
  • ART DOG by John Olive and Susan Ennis, based on the book by Thacher Hurd
  • (Coming up in December 2016) DIARY OF A WORM, A SPIDER, AND A FLY by Joan Cushing, based on the books by Doreen Cronin

art dog at utah museum of contemporary art

Title-1 Arts Education Program

One of SLAC’s flagship programs was born out of our children’s productions – the Title-1 Arts Education Program. In conjunction with each children’s play, we offer eight free performances to Title-1 elementary schools, which are designated as schools with high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families. These are often students who have never seen a play before, whose minds and imaginations are opened up by seeing the books they’ve read in their classrooms come to life on stage.

The plays we choose are based on books geared toward kindergarten through second grade students. We learned that these are the grades that are typically least served in terms of field trip opportunities, and we have found them to be some of our most excited, engaged, and appreciative audiences. 

Our children’s plays run during the month of December each year, and we start taking Title-1 performance reservations in August. We work with the Salt Lake School District to help spread the word and we take class reservations on a first come, first served basis. Each year, we welcome approximately 1,500 students through this program.

Once a class or school has made a reservation, our Director of Marketing and Engagement, Erika Ahlin, is in contact with the teachers, sending a prepared study guide (which is created by SLAC staff with the help of an education specialist) and making sure they have everything they need before seeing the play.

click clack moo chatting with students 

Each Title-1 performance begins with members of our staff talking to the students about the experience of live theatre. We discuss what makes theatre different from movies or television – The action is taking place right in front of you! Just like you can see and hear the actors, they can see and hear you! This is a special experience that you and the actors share! We talk about their job as audience members and encourage them to listen, laugh, and applaud. We talk about the book the play is based on and things to watch for on stage. We teach them a piece of choreography from the play. And after the play is over, the actors stay on stage for a Q&A session, giving students the opportunity to ask their burning questions, like, “How did the eyes in the painting move?” and “Where did you get all your costumes?” and “How old are you?” The talkbacks are not only educational for the students, but also always entertaining for SLAC staff and actors.

go dog go

Community Engagement

Our children’s plays also give us the opportunity to engage with segments of our community that we might not otherwise reach. Each year, we work with local libraries, bookshops, schools, and community organizations to arrange special performances and readings. Our actors read the book and perform sections of the play in these free performances. In the past, our community performances have included The King’s English Bookshop, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Discovery Gateway, St. Olaf’s, and many Salt Lake City and County Libraries.

community performance of how I became a pirate

For the past few years, SLAC has hosted an event for Voices of Utah Children – a local organization whose work focuses on making Utah a place where all children thrive. Their staff and supporters gather at SLAC to see a sneak-peek of our children’s play and meet the cast and creative team.

We’ve also partnered with the Visual Art Institute of Utah, Bad Dog Arts, and Washington Elementary to adorn our lobby and Green Room Gallery with student artwork relating to the play.

 kings english event if you give a mouse a cookie

Inspiring the Next Generation of Theatre-Goers

My favorite thing about producing children’s theatre is knowing that so many of our young audiences are experiencing this magic for the first time. There is nothing like live theatre, and it is incredibly special and a huge honor to be part of introducing it to someone, especially a child. Children’s minds are ripe for possibility and suspension of disbelief; they are, in many ways, the ideal theatre audience. You know you’re doing it right when they are enthralled, and you know you’ve done something wrong when they are bored. And they are not shy about letting you know, in either case. Our goal is always to engage and inspire; to give them something they’ll remember, so that theatre becomes an ongoing part of their lives. 

the cat in the hat

SLAC’s commitment to young audiences and their understanding and appreciation of live theatre is hugely important and continually inspiring. I am so proud to play a part. I hope you and the young people in your life will join us this December for DIARY OF A WORM, A SPIDER, AND A FLY!

-Shannon Musgrave

Shannon Musgrave is Salt Lake Acting Company’s Associate Artistic Director and had the pleasure of performing in SLAC’s productions of GO, DOG. GO! and HOW I BECAME A PIRATE.   

Local Arts Agencies Are Alive and Thriving in Salt Lake County

May 11, 2016

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Did you know Salt Lake County is home to sixteen local arts agencies (LAA), also called local arts councils? Did you know the distinguishing characteristic that sets LAAs apart from other arts organizations is a primary focus on serving and celebrating the community?

From the capital of Salt Lake City to the town of Alta, with a population of 383 at an altitude of 8,530 feet, Salt Lake County cities and townships have LAAs as diverse as the communities they serve. All of the LAAs are engaged in arts education, through their own programming and in partnerships with schools and school districts. 

south salt lake mural project

South Salt Lake Arts Council hosted a mosaic mural workshop for children with artist Roger Whiting, and is embarking on a cultural district planning process for the heart of South Salt Lake.

Live theatre is thriving at the LAAs and theatre productions are often the first program to be undertaken by an LAA. You will find arts festivals, visual art exhibits, literary readings and poetry slams, film series, all types of music and dance, and more. LAAs give grants, train artists, advocate for the arts, build economic vitality, manage cultural facilities, and, most importantly, enhance community identity.

holladay arts is working with the refugee community

Holladay Arts has been working with refugees to tell their stories through art.

The programs and services provided by each LAA are distinctive and community-based. In this blogpost, it’s not possible to highlight what each of the 17 LAAs is known for, so to discover on your own, here is the complete list: 

magna arts council offers a full range of programming - including the arts festival on main

Magna Arts Council offers a year-round menu of arts activities and celebrates Magna’s historic Main Street with an annual arts festival.

uccc statsBoth Salt Lake City and West Valley City, the two most culturally diverse communities in the valley, embrace this demography with  events like the Living Traditions Festival in Salt Lake and year-round programming at WVC's Utah Cultural Celebration Center. Both the Holladay Arts Council and the Millcreek Township Arts Council have worked with refugee communities.The West Jordan Arts Council produces an annual literary event that attracts 1,200 people, who attend readings, workshops and book-signings with best-selling authors. ACE (Alta Community Enrichment) booked a bagpipe player to greet skiers as they come off the mountain at Alta Ski Area.

Salt Lake County LAAs may have a home of their own or partner with schools, libraries, and civic spaces to present their programs. Finding an appropriate cultural facility is a significant challenge for our LAAs. Theatre productions offer a great opportunity for crossing borders, sharing actors, directors, musicians and choreographers from across the valley as well as costumes and sets.

The ZAP Program established the LAA Advancement Initiative in 2013  to support the community-based nature and intrinsic value of the work of the people who are managers and leaders at Salt Lake County’s LAAs. With approval from the Salt Lake County Council and Mayor McAdams, this initiative is building an LAA network for communication and support among our LAAs, offers a specific grant category for LAAs who wish to hire their first executive staff person, and provides professional consulting services and training for the LAAs on a wide range of topics.

I recently received the gift of a signed copy of An Innocence of Prairie by Robert E. Gard, with wood engraving illustrations by Curt L. Carpenter, from an edition of only 1,000. This gift is doubly treasured by me. Robert E. Gard’s daughter, Maryo Gard Ewell, gave me the book and she is, in her own right, one of the country’s community arts ninjas. Robert E. Gard is recognized as an early leader in the community arts movement.  His work is based on these principles -- still meaningful, valuable and put into practice by our LAAs today:

  1. The arts spring from the commonplace and celebrate our essential humanity.
  2. Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in arts and cultural experiences.
  3. Each of us has the capacity to "alter the face and the heart of America."
  4. The Arts have the power to ignite change.
  5. The arts are an essential part of building healthy communities and meaningful lives.
  6. The arts play a vital role in placemaking.

-Nancy Boskoff, Consultant for the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks' LAA Advancement Initiative

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway with Mountain West Ballet

May 10, 2016

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Ticket Tuesday- Mtn West 2

Three winners have been chosen to receive four tickets to Mountain West Ballet's THE SLEEPING BEAUTY. If you didn't win this time, we hope you can still attend!

NOVA Chamber Music ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway

April 18, 2016

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nova chamber music

Winners have been chosen to receive two (2) tickets to NOVA Chamber Music's Sunday, May 22 concert at Libby Gardner Hall at 3 PM. Their concert will feature American works by Rosenweig, Bolcom and Barber and a spectacular early work by Beethoven, the Septet in E-Flat Major.

Visit the NOVA Chamber Music Series  here to learn more about them and their other upcoming performances.

ZAP Ticket Tuesday with Tanner Humanities Center

April 05, 2016

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Tanner Humanities- Ticket Tuesday NTL Coriolanus

Two winners have been chosen to win two tickets to the Tanner Humanities Center screening of National Theatre Live: CORIOLANUS. The screening takes place this Saturday, April 16 at noon at Salt Lake Film Society's Broadway theater (111 E. Broadway).

Tanner Humanities Center is funded in part through a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) program. Learn more about who ZAP funds

ZAP Ticket Tuesday with Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake

March 29, 2016

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CMS Ticket Tuesday

Three winners have been chosen to win 2 tickets each to the concert performance by the Doric String Quartet featuring Jonathan Biss, April 11th at Kingsbury Hall. Presented by The Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City.

If you didn't win this time, we hope you can still make it to the performance.

Stay tuned for our next giveaway!

ZAP Ticket Tuesday with Tanner Dance

March 22, 2016

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Tanner Dance- Ticket Tuesday

A winner has been chosen to win 2 tickets to the Children's Dance Theatre performance of GWINNA, Friday April 8, presented by Tanner Dance.  If you didn't win this time, we hope you can still make the performance.  Tickets are available for purchase here.

Stay tuned for our next Ticket Tuesday Giveaway!

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway for globalFEST

March 15, 2016

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globalfest at utahpresents  

A winner has been chosen to receive 4 tickets to UtahPresents' GLOBALFEST (March 31).  If you didn't win this time, we hope you can still make it to the performance.  Visit the event site here to purchase tickets.  And keep entering our #ZAPTicketTuesday giveaways!

UtahPresents is funded in part by a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks.  

the u of u as the it of it tanner humanities hosts suzan-lori parks

March 14, 2016

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Tanner Humanities in a Nutshell

For over twenty-seven years, the Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah has promoted humanistic inquiry and exchange by supporting innovative scholarly projects and creating opportunities for interaction among scholars, students, and lifelong learners. In particular, we offer research support, public lectures and programs, and faculty outreach (see Our activities reflect a vision of the humanities as not only relevant, timely, stimulating, and cutting-edge, but also essential for developing critical thinking, tolerance, and respect on campus and in our community.

The Tanner Humanities Center is a first-time ZAP recipient and is honored to be counted among the many fine ZAP-funded arts and cultural organizations that enhance Salt Lake County resident and visitor experiences.  To that end, the Tanner Humanities Center was able to use ZAP funds to support a recent free and public event with Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist Suzan-Lori Parks.

suzan lori-parks with a guitar

A Visit from Suzan-Lori Parks

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, Parks delivered the 2016 David P. Gardner Lecture in the Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall. “The Suzan-Lori Parks Show” was part lecture, part performance, and part “consciousness raising of the collective unconscious.” Parks took the stage for 50 minutes, followed by a Q&A and a book signing co-hosted by The King’s English Book Shop.  Approximately 500 community and campus members attended the event, including students from West High School, playwrights from Salt Lake Acting Company’s Playwrights’ Lab, and undergraduate students from the University of Utah’s MUSE Project, Humanities House, and Department of Theatre.

suzan-lori parks signs student books


Suggestions from Parks

Parks was introduced by Raymond Tymas-Jones, Associate Vice President for the Arts and Dean of the College of Fine Arts, who detailed Parks’ extensive awards and accolades. Parks paused briefly before performing to reflect on the semantic impact of the “U of U.”  Similar to being the “It of It,” she pondered. And this phrase encapsulated her overall message, which she delivered in stories, gestures, song, and what she called “suggestions,” such as “listen to your own voice,” explore your “far out ideas,” “make your own luck,” “practice radical inclusion,” “keep the drama on the stage” and “grow your own grit.” She also spoke about her relationship to her mentor James Baldwin and the importance of trying to commit to her craft every day. When asked about the impact of success, she stressed “holding onto the hands of the people who have come before you,” thinking about “the path you are making for others to follow,” and recognizing that you have been “summoned to spread love, kindness, compassion, and enthusiasm.” 

students attend a workshop with parks

A Workshop with Parks

On the morning of February 25, Parks attended breakfast with University of Utah Department of Theatre faculty and later conducted a workshop for 30 undergraduate students on location at the Tanner Humanities Center. She answered questions about her plays, her creative processes and practices, and the congruency between her written work and her public performances. She also offered advice for saying “yes” to difficulty, risk, and challenge and showing up regularly for one’s creative practices. She closed by inviting participants to join “Watch Me Work,” conversations about creativity and an actual work session that she hosts on the mezzanine of The Public Theater in New York City and via webcast and twitter.

suzan lori parks laughing

About Suzan-Lori Parks

Suzan-Lori Parks is a playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and musician. In 2002, she was the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Topdog/Underdog. She has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, among others. She has also received a MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Grant,” was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize-finalist and Tony Award nominee for Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3), and recently was awarded the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.


Sponsors/partners for this event included:

University of Utah


-Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson, Development Officer for the Tanner Humanities Center, earned her bachelor’s degree in English and Education and her master’s degree in English from Marquette University and received graduate training in English with an emphasis in American Studies and poetry at the University of Utah. She has taught courses in writing and literature and worked as an editor, writer, and grant writer. She also has taught poetry to elementary students in Salt Lake City and currently conducts a book group for Art Access, a local nonprofit arts organization that targets underserved populations. Anderson began working at the Tanner Humanities Center in 2015.