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Murray City Cultural Arts and Repertory Dance Theatre ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway


February 23, 2016

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murray city cultural arts and rdt tickets

Two winners were chosen to receive 5 tickets each to Murray City Cultural Arts Presents CELEBRATE! RDT IN CONCERT on March 11 at 7:30 PM. If you didn't win this time, we hope you can still make it to the performance. And keep entering our #ZAPTicketTuesday giveaways!

Murray City Cultural Arts and Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) are both funded in part by a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks. 


ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway for Discovery Gateway


February 16, 2016

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Ticket Tuesday- Discovery Gateway

Winner has been announced for a free family pass to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum!

Discovery Gateway is funded in part through a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP).


Film Brings the Beehive State Together


February 11, 2016

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As I reflect on the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, I am still struck by a statement Robert Redford made during the opening day press conference on Thursday, January 21.  The idea he shared is that no matter how our society evolves and no matter how much technology alters our daily lives, there will always be a need to gather together to experience the communal experience of watching a film.  There is no substitute for going to the theatre.  That notion stuck with me through the whole 10 days as I witnessed that idea in action. 

Over the course of the Festival, I attended 15 screenings organized exclusively for students that reached more than 6,000 students and teachers. I handed out more than 600 free tickets for community groups to connect with the program.  I curated screenings that reached more than 2,300 local residents.  And in addition, I program year round screenings for Utah residents.  I get a front seat to witness the incredible power film has to spark dialogue and connect people. 

It goes without saying that I have a unique position with Sundance Institute and in my opinion, the best job there is.

I manage our free, Utah-based community and student outreach programs. From programming the outdoor Summer Film Series to organizing screenings just for students, I get to bring free programming to Utah residents. Let me give you a glimpse of why I love my job and how I get to connect the local community to independent film:

AWARD WINNERS: For many January 31 marks the official end of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. But this year, more than 5,000 local residents were treated to an extra day of fun with Festival award-winners screened just for locals at nine Best of Fest screenings in Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden, and Sundance Resort.  A few of the Best of Fest screenings this year were Birth of a Nation, Sonita, Morris From America and Life, Animated.

Best of Fest

JUST FOR STUDENTS: The best part of my job is overseeing the Sundance Institute · George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation Student Screening Program during the Festival. For the past 16 years, this program presents Sundance Film Festival films curated by Sundance Institute staff to introduce young audiences to independent film and engage them in stories from around the globe.  Following each screening, the filmmaker conducts a live discussion with the students and teachers surrounding the themes in the film. In 2000, ZAP funding provided the “seed money” to make this program a reality by offering 4 free film screenings to almost 700 students in Salt Lake. Sixteen years later the program has expanded to 15 screenings in Salt Lake, Park City and Ogden to an audience of over 6,000 students and teachers. Thank you ZAP for helping to start something great for Utah students by giving them the opportunity to engage with the Festival!

The 2016 program saw record breaking attendance as well as some truly special moments. Utah students were treated to free screenings of Sundance Kids selections: The Little Gangster and The Eagle Huntress; documentaries: Sonita, How to Let Go of the World, Life, Animated, Maya Angelou and Still I Rise, Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to Off the Wall, Richard Linklater - Dream Is Destiny; and experimental narratives from the NEXT and New Frontier categories: The Fits and Notes on Blindness. The program offered students a wide range of genres and subjects to introduce them to the art of independent film and storytelling.

While each screening is special and students ask questions that prove they are wise beyond their years, two screenings from the 2016 program stand-out: Sonita and Life, Animated.  On Monday, January 26, students were among the first audiences to watch the Grand Jury and Audience Award: World Cinema documentary – Sonita. The film tells the story of a young girl, Sonita, who is an undocumented refugee living in Iran. She has dreams of becoming a rapper but her family wants to sell her into marriage. Sonita herself and the film’s director were onsite for the film and Q&A. Students gave them film a standing ovation and were treated to a rap performance by Sonita. During the post-film discussion, students learned more about Sonita’s life and her work to end child marriage. At the student screening of Life, Animated, students learned about Owen Suskind, an autistic boy who learned to communicate through Disney animated movies. The entire Suskind family and the director – Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams - attended the screening and participated in the Q&A. The young audience gave the film a rousing standing ovation which was followed by a moving discussion about the film and about autism. Many of the students have siblings or friends who are on the autism spectrum. The Suskind family was moved by how respectful and engaged the student audience was during the film and Q&A. It was a beautiful moment for Utah students.

Sundance- Sonita

CURATED SCREENINGS: We continually look for ways to draw groups closer to the program and one of my favorite parts of the job is programming films that explore an issue or topic that will resonate locally.  And this year I am pleased to say over 1200 Salt Lake residents turned out for free community screenings during the 2016 Film Festival! Local college students watched the documentary Author: The JT Leroy Story and the LGBT community enjoyed the narrative Viva. In addition to watching a Festival film for free, both groups were also able to engage in a dialogue with the directors of each film. The community outreach screenings continued through the week with another local college screening at the Tower Theatre where student watched one of the most buzzed films of the Festival – Swiss Army Man. Locals were treated to three additional screenings during the closing weekend: Under the Gun, a documentary that explores gun violence in America; How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change), a documentary about climate change; and Hunt For the Wilderpeople a narrative from indigenous filmmaker Taika Waititi.

One memory that will stay with me is when almost 250 members of local environmental organizations danced with director Josh Fox during the credits of his film  How to Let Go of the World (And Love all the Things Climate Can’t Change) before they started the Q&A.

FREE COMMUNITY TICKETS: In addition to offering free screenings during the Festival, Sundance Institute’s Utah Community Programs also includes the Community Ticket Program. We set aside complimentary tickets for nonprofit organizations and special interest groups whose mission aligns with a theme or subject presented in a film. For the 2016 Festival, 484 tickets and ticket vouchers were given to 46 organizations in Salt Lake County. One of the most touching donations was to the Big Brothers Big Sisters group that planned to use the tickets for “bigs” to take the “littles” to the Sundance Kids screening of Snowtime!  It means a lot to provide an opportunity for adults and kids to experience the world-class Film Festival that takes place in their backyard, while assisting another organization to provide a special experience for a kid in need.  The program also has reach beyond Utah borders. The Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy works with the US State Department to host visitors from around the world and showcase both Utah and democracy. The UCCD hosted a group of Indonesian visitors during the Festival and I had the pleasure of giving the group tickets to a screening of the documentary Gleason at the Grand Theatre. I hope the group enjoyed the film and the Sundance experience!

Sundane- Notes on Blindness

GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE, SOLD: Sundance Institute also gives local nonprofits ticket packages and passes to bolster their fundraising efforts by auctioning the packages at events and galas during the spring, summer, and fall months. 38 packages and passes were donated to Salt Lake organizations. The program is a special way to not only help fellow nonprofit organizations raise much needed funds but also for Sundance to reach a new audience. In addition, we were able to donate two tickets for a screening of Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to Off the Wall for ZAP’s #TicketTuesday!

I would be remiss for not thanking the community supporters who make Sundance Institute's Community Programs a reality: George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation; Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development; Salt Lake County Economic Development Department; Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) Program; Utah Division of Arts & Museums and the National Endowment for the Arts; and Zions Bank. A big round of applause for their support in helping over 16,000 residents experience the Festival...for FREE!!

The 2016 Festival was a wild ride for local independent film fans. I am proud of the free programming the Institute presented to its home state as well as the incredible audiences we are able to work with. Programming community and student outreach for Utah is a labor of love. I hope that Utah had as much fun as I did. See you this summer for a screening under the stars!

- Kara Cody

Kara Cody is Sundance Institute's Senior Manager for Utah Community Programs. She hails from Yankton, SD  and studied political theory and philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.  For the past four years, Kara has worked for Sundance Institute managing community and student outreach programs. She lives in Park City, UT with her husband, son, and Bernese Mountain Dog. When not watching films, Kara enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and live music. 


Inspiring Ideas into Action with Utah Humanities


February 02, 2016

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UHumanities 1

Where would we be without art, music, philosophy, & history?  All of these disciplines and more encompass the humanities, a great range of ideas that help us better understand different perspectives on what it means to be human. 

“Through technology we are now connected to the far reaches of the planet, but without the study of history, religion, languages, philosophy, and culture we will never understand those we reach.”  - Utah Humanities

Helping us to better understand each other, inspiring ideas and discussion that can be put into action, this is what Utah Humanities is all about.  Offering several programs from supporting community heritage to education access, they are also the state affiliate of the National Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.  The Center for the Book program promotes public interest in books, reading, authorship and libraries throughout the state of Utah. 

Orem Reads

Author Terry Tempest Williams engages audiences at the Orem Reads portion of the Utah Humanities 18th Annual Book Festival.

“The power of language and stories come to life in meaningful ways when members of our Utah community meet and talk with authors. These interactions and ideas can inspire people to explore new facets of their life and take action.”

This was just the case when a young teenager attended a recent celebration of children’s and young literature and was able to meet the authors. 

“His family is very poor and he took two buses and more than an hour to get to the event because he really wanted to meet the authors. After the panel, he told the authors how badly he wished to become a writer. They were so struck by his story that they bought him several of their books and then paid for him to attend the Teen Authors’ Boot Camp coming up in a few months. Elated, he left the event in tears.”

Keep Calm- Small

#GoodAdviceIn4Words

Recently the Utah Humanities staff reflected on their own reading from the past year.  Check out their book picks to see what ideas most inspired them! 

Utah Humanities Staff Book Picks:

The Most Important Books We Read in 2015

(...and how they influenced us)

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for."

- Socrates

Cynthia Buckingham, Executive DirectorThe Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt helped me get past the impasse in my own mind about talking politics with people whose political philosophies are very different from my own. Starting with the values we hold in common makes me a better listener and, I hope, more likely to engage in conversation rather than argument.

Jean Cheney, Associate Director:  Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is written as a long letter to his teenaged son to prepare him for the racist society we live in. Coates' book was hard to read and impossible to forget. It is full of fear, truth, and, ultimately, love. 

Jodi Graham, Grants and Outreach Program Officer: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Do I see people for who they truly are, or do I see only my assumptions? Am I the same on the outside as I am on the inside? The author describes it in this way, "on the outside, she's covered in quills...on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary--and terribly elegant."

Jamie Gregersen, Finance and Office Manager: Breaking Night by Liz Murray. This heartbreaking story serves as a reminder to exercise compassion, and leaves me in awe of the resiliency some people have through what seem like insurmountable circumstances. It's an inspiring illustration of amazing tenacity.

UHumanities Staff

Fuzzy Utah Humanities staff "selfie" shows the lighter side of humanities work

Justin Howland, Administrative Assistant: Dream Work by Mary Oliver. With her committed attentiveness to moments of isolation--turning the act of observation into the quiet observance of the connective tissue holding together the larger organism of our lives--Mary Oliver invites us to cultivate a compassionate engagement with the world around us.

Michael McLane, Literature Program Officer: Voices of Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich is not for the faint-hearted. It is a brutal tour of both gross negligence on a governmental level and of human adaptability in impossible situations. I chose it not only because of her recent, and much-deserved, Nobel Prize, but also because here she inverts what won her the award in the first place--this is a book of listening, a place where her voice is supplanted by a chorus of Ukranian and Belarusian voices.

Deena Pyle, Communications Director: Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, originally published in 1953, is both a sci-fi masterpiece and a timeless fable. This classic novel speculates about the ultimate destiny of mankind and quickly became my most important book of the year for begging some very deep existential questions--all within a sobering, poignant, sometimes shocking, and ultimately bittersweet narrative.

Megan van Frank, History and Museums Program Officer: The Hare With Amber Eyes, a memoir by Edmund de Waal, delves into the secret lives of 264 Japanese netsuke as they are passed hand-to-hand through generations of the author's family--through war and upheaval--to show how objects can carry stories, evoke place, and embody memory.

Cristi Wetterberg, Development Specialist: You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt whose straightforward and timeless book offers readers what she learned through living. This book strengthened some of my own beliefs, educated me on others I hadn't thought about or practiced before, and gave me the encouragement to continue to learn new things, meet and understand new people, and to seek out new ideas.

 

Visit Utah Humanities.org to learn more about their programs and latest news.  And feel free to share the most important book you read recently (and its influence on YOU) with us in the comments! 

Compiled by Michelle Ludema, book and humanities lover, as well as Communications Intern at Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks, in collaboration with Deena Pyle, Communications Director at Utah Humanities. 


 

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway with Tanner Humanities


February 02, 2016

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Ticket Tuesday- Tanner Humanities Center


Winners have been announced for 2 pairs of tickets to the National Theatre Live broadcast of JANE EYRE, presented by Tanner Humanities Center.

Tanner Humanities Center is funded in part through a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP).  


Funding Support for your Creative Placemaking Project


December 22, 2015

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ArtPlace - Join us in Park City or Salt Lake

Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks is teaming up with Utah Division of Arts & Museums to welcome ArtPlace America to Utah!

ArtPlace America is a 10-year collaboration among 15 foundations, eight federal agencies, and six financial institutions who are dedicated to positioning art and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric or communities.

ArtPlace's program offers $50,000 to $500,000 to support place-based planning and development projects strengthening communities through arts and culture.

Since 2011, ArtPlace has invested $66.875 million, to 227 projects across 152 communities of all sizes within 43 states and the District of Columbia.   

ArtPlace is specifically looking for successful Utah applications.

We urge you to attend on of two informational sessions on their National Creative Placemaking Fund: 

  • January 19 | 10 AM to 12 PM | Summit County Library, Richins Building, Room 133 (Lower Level) | 1885 W. Ute Blvd., Park City, UT 84098
  • January 20 | 12 PM to 2 PM | Viridian Event Center, 8030 S. 1825 W., West Jordan, UT 84088 (A light lunch will be served)

Topics include:

  • What is creative placemaking?
  • What makes a competitive application?
  • What does the application process entail?
  • A discussion on how the arts have been used to "move the needle" to address relevant and challenging community issues.

Who should attend?

The event is free and open to the public! Anyone and everyone interested in learning about how you can be supported to creatively make change in your community! Artists, arts organizations, designers, community developers, planners, city and town administrators, community residents, business owners, faith and religious groups, philanthropists, and more are invited to learn more about arts-based strategies to community development. The National Creative Placemaking Fund will fund anyone regardless of tax-exempt status. 

Consider these questions:

  • Where will you work to address this community-based challenge or opportunity?
  • Has the community identified a planning and development challenge or opportunity it wants to address?
  • What role can arts and culture play in strengthening communities?
  • Who sits at "the table" when planning and development decisions are being made?

These and other questions will be addressed at the workshop. We hope you'll join us.

Please RSVP by filling out this form by January 15.


This Holiday Season Gift the Arts!


December 01, 2015

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2015 Holiday Markets

It’s that time of year again! The lights are up, the snow is falling (well, some days), and we’re busy seeking out fun ways to enjoy the holiday season as well as searching for perfect gifts for family and friends. 

As you go about your holiday shopping this year, consider gifting the arts! Tickets to a concert or performance by a favorite theater company can provide a lifelong experience to remember, and handmade arts and crafts bring daily inspiration. Not to mention it’s always fun to meet the artists that created them! You can do just that at one of the many holiday markets being hosted this December that showcase unique gifts made by local artists and crafters. 

To help you plan your market-hopping experience and support our creative community this holiday season, we’ve compiled a quick list of some of the many arts & craft markets taking place around the valley. If we missed a favorite of yours, please feel welcome to share it in the comments.

Happy Gifting! 

December 3-5

December 4

December 5

December 5-6

December 5-6 & 12-13

Dec 5 & 12 10am-6pm

Dec 5 & 19 10am-2pm

Dec 5-21

Dec 12


Summer Night Lights: Cities Collaborate to Reduce Violence


November 20, 2015

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Business robberies down 50%

Residential burglary down 48%

Simple assaults down 100%

Grand theft down 51%

ZERO homicides!

midvale - summer night lights

How would you like to report those statistics in your community?

That is exactly what the Midvale Arts Council is working for. We are partnering with Unified Police Department, Canyons School District, Midvale City, Copperview Recreation Center, and the Midvale Boys and Girls Club to create something based on a successful program carried out in Sacramento, California and other cities throughout the nation. Sacramento Summer Night Lights is a violence reduction program disguised as fun and is a product of multi-sector collaboration amongst various stakeholders in one of the city’s highest crime locations. By creating a safe environment, the program fostered community growth and trust which resulted in a drastic reduction in violence. 

midvale - diversity day

Midvale City is working with Moises Prospero, the founder and lead researcher of the Institute for Innovative Justice. Moises coordinates with police departments, school districts, social service departments and other groups to form multi-agency collaborations to implement specific, high-quality strategies to reduce gang violence and to implement proven practices for the prevention and early intervention of juvenile delinquency. The Midvale Arts Council (MAC) was brought to the table to work with these groups in enhancing the free summer concert series that is already in place. With the collaboration of these groups, MAC is looking to produce our greatest summer concert series to date. On Friday nights during the summer, community members throughout the valley can gather in a safe place to celebrate community, enjoy diverse styles of music and other various activities such as visual arts, dance, sports, storytelling and book give a ways. Plus, children will receive free meals.

midvale - Leavitt AMP

We are looking for help.

Other communities in the valley would like to create similar programs. Magna, West Valley, and Salt Lake City are all exploring their options and would like help carrying out this massive undertaking. If you are interested in helping, please email Moises Prospero at MProspero@slco.org. You can help Midvale City receive funding to enhance our summer concert series through a national grant sponsored by Levitt Pavilions by voting for their proposal at www.levittamp.org. Midvale City is the only organization in Utah that is in the running for this grant. For more information visit www.midvalearts.com.Together we can make a difference!

-Suzanne Walker

Suzanne Walker was recently hired as the Executive Director of the Midvale Arts Council where she has been a volunteer for nearly 20 years. She has produced over 40 theatrical productions for the council and has also been privileged to be on stage and behind the scenes directing, choreographing, or costuming many of those productions. She enjoys watching her children play basketball, soccer and football. She also enjoys singing, playing the piano, sewing and cooking. 


The Importance of Community Education


November 09, 2015

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These days my desk sits in the Utah Film Center offices on Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City where I spend my time designing workshops to train public school teachers how to use film-making as a meaningful, in-classroom student engagement strategy.

An Educator’s Story

I came to Utah Film Center as part of the SHIFT team. SHIFT was an independent organization until this June, when it merged with Utah Film Center and became a program of their expanding Education Department. I worked for SHIFT for about three years before the merger. Now, as part of Utah Film Center I’m excited to continue both my personal and the organizational mission to empower teachers by putting digital media arts tools into their able (though sometimes trembling) hands. This is coupled with the philosophy that if we can inspire teachers and increase the use of creative technology integration, students—who are fluent in the language of the digital age—will respond and flourish. 

utah film center - suzi film workshop 

My heart is in this. What I mean is that my heart is into using everything I have to help lift our education system out of its current siege. I won’t throw a lot of bleak statistics at you, but I will say that Utah is ranked about 36th across the nation in academic performance, a nation that is barely making the top twenty in the purview of global educational success. THAT, my friends, is a report card that would concern any parent. Despite this, I would like to add that I don’t pay too much heed to this ranking, though I do believe it is important to pay attention to pieces of what the leading nations (Finland, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan) are successfully doing; there are certainly some educational nuggets we can glean from them. But is it productive to make, for example, the Finnish education system the pie in the sky—and then hold our teachers and administrators accountable for not attaining the paragon? Are we comparing apples to apples when we compare and then censure those in the trenches trying to bake the same cake but with completely different ingredients? Just as a diagnosis doesn’t describe a child, nor does a statistic explain the creativity, hard work and, dare I say, genius happening everyday in our schools. To me, the solution is so clear. We need to support our teachers no matter what.

utah film center - teacher and suzi

 

Moving, Doing, Learning

Parlez-vous français? I get asked that often when I tell people that I am from Canada. I arrived from Edmonton, Alberta, to Salt Lake in 1993 as a typical immigrant, to try my hand on the powdery slopes. It didn’t take me long though to gravitate to the core of the city where I began working with two nine-year-old girls, navigating the classroom with them a few afternoons a week. I saw those girls through junior high and it was during those years that I vicariously experienced what a day in the life of a teacher is like. And, I distinctly remember wondering if I should be painting a broader swathe and helping these teachers negotiate the 33 or so students, some of whom barely spoke English, others who were obviously just checking out, and more still who were acting out and creating a huge bullying problem in which I would intervene weekly. The disruptions to a conducive learning environment felt endless. To be honest, I didn’t really know how to help the teachers, so I stuck mainly to helping my two girls. They went on to high school and I pursued other ventures…all kinds of things from writing for a local newspaper, to archaeology digs; I moved on to pursue higher education, did documentary work in Southern Utah, and became senior producer of a science radio show. Inevitably, though, I came full circle back to where it all began.

utah film center - morningside elementary

Today

Twenty-some years have passed since I was sitting in the classroom with those nine-year-old girls, and though classrooms still have walls, they are far less opaque. Gone are the yellow-lined notepads and shiny, red apples that once sat proudly on a teacher’s desk, replaced by the even shinier Apple Macintosh (undeniably comparing apples to apples!). But one thing hasn’t changed: despite the shiny, new tools, teachers still need our support as much as ever, and that is what we have organized to do. This past June, SHIFT merged with Utah Film Center to create a robust Education Department headed by Rick Wray, whose vision and leadership has inspired me now for over a decade.  The group of dedicated staffers that comprise the Education Department enthusiastically support teachers and their students in classrooms, using film and filmmaking as our method and engagement tool. I full-heartedly believe that it takes a community to educate one child, and I wholeheartedly agree with what ZAP Grant and Communications Program Coordinator Megan Attermann noted in a previous blog after she attended a conference in Chicago: community engagement cannot be done at a desk, but rather, it must be done face-to-face, through active listening and relationship building. 

utah film center - teaching teachers

And so it is, I am back in the saddle, working for SHIFT, now a program of Utah Film Center, training teachers of all subjects in the art of filmmaking in order to inspire them and give them another skillset to engage their students. Meanwhile my education team colleagues are out in the classrooms inspiring students through presentations, introducing them to industry experts, and showing them the power of expression through film.  

utah film center - staff with shift

It Takes a Village

According to TED Founder Richard Saul Wurman, “Learning is remembering what you are interested in.” Well, I have been reminded and it feels equally fortuitous as it does inevitable that my job is helping teachers. For me, there is no question that at the heart of a good education is a good teacher, and I want to take part in a cultural *shift* where we ALL understand our responsibility and take not only a role in supporting teachers, but accept an onus to finding solutions to our educational woes.  My position will be to continue to rally for and behind our teachers. Please join me. 

-Suzi Montgomery

Suzi spends her days as the Utah Film Center SHIFT Program Director, writing and producing digital stories, and enjoying life both in Salt Lake and Chicago.  

P.S. And yes, I do speak French, thanks to the Canadian education system going for broke with bilingual education programs!


Bringing Our Creative Community Together


November 03, 2015

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Salt Lake has a thriving community of creatives who help make this a great place to live. This has been confirmed over and over as I’ve worked with individuals and organizations throughout our county and beyond as part of Utah Opera’s Creative Community program.

Opera is an art form that brings many different modes of creative expression together. On any given day at the Utah Opera Production Studios (downtown on 400 West) you’ll find a team of talented tailors, stitchers, drapers, and designers creating costumes for the opera. If you walk to the back of the studios, you’ll find painters and carpenters creating stunning scenery. The rehearsal hall is filled with singers, dancers, and actors who use their talents to bring stories to life through opera. Finally, when the opera production makes it to Capitol Theatre, the addition of the Utah Symphony orchestra members helps tie it all together.

utah opera - costume rack 1

The costume racks at Utah Opera's Production Studios store decades worth of work by artists in the costume shop.

At the heart of our Creative Communities initiative is this spirit of unity and of bringing creative people together surrounding a singular common interest: opera. But it has evolved into so much more – it has been a catalyst to connect creative individuals and build new relationships.

utah opera - fashion presentation

Utah Opera artist, Jessica Jones, performs alongside a fashion presentation prepared by Vanessa di Palma Wright.

For example, on opening night of Puccini’s Tosca, we partnered with Farasha Boutique and Vida Tequila to host a rooftop soiree on the outdoor terrace of Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre. Costumes from Utah Opera’s costume shop were featured next to contemporary fashion as Utah Opera’s Resident Artists performed alongside a beautiful fashion presentation prepared by Vanessa di Palma Wright and Farasha’s designers.

Earlier in November, a lucky group of individuals attended a private dining event that was prepared by Red Kitchen.  The three talented chefs who created this dining experience were inspired by the characters, story, and location of Tosca to create a five-course meal that was as beautiful as it was delicious. 

The chefs at Red Kitchen were not the only culinary artists who were inspired by the opera. Bakers at So Cupcakes and Mini’s Cupcakes made delicious Tosca-inspired cupcakes. Mixologists at Bodega, Current, Finca, Handle, Pallet Bistro, OP Rockwell, Silver Star Café, and Takashi Sushi created Tosca-inspired craft cocktails through the Libretto & Libations promotion. At the Salt Lake Culinary Center, individuals took a class and learned to create a traditional Italian meal.

utah opera - tosca

Sormani's stunning painted drops in Utah Opera's October 2015 production of Tosca.

And there has been more. During the Salt Lake Design Week , the community was invited to view the stunning artistry of legendary scenic artist Ercole Sormani’s painted Tosca drops up close to learn how perspective and lighting can be used in design. Those who visited Art Access during the October Gallery Stroll were treated to a performance by Utah Opera's Resident Artists. In August, the Nero Head from Utah Opera's costume shop traveled to Utah County and made an impressive appearance at StartFEST where I was able to have fascinating conversations with creative entrepreneurs in our community. 

utah opera - gallery stroll

Utah Opera's Resident Artists perform at Art Access during Gallery Stroll.

As I’ve been reminded with Creative Communities, innovation can come from unexpected places, and we should be grateful for the high level of creativity and art in our community. The arts are incredibly important for our community because they encourage creativity and innovation. Art motivates us and touches our souls. It evokes emotions to encourage thinking and conversation. It helps us see the world differently. I couldn’t imagine our community without all the art and artists who help bring beauty and inspiration to our lives.

-Jon Miles

Jon Miles has been Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera (USUO) since 2011. In this role he oversees marketing, public relations, and sales for the organization. Jon joined USUO in 2007 as the Direct Marketing Manager and in 2009 became Director of Patron Development & Ticketing Services. He has a B.S. in Management with a Marketing Emphasis and is currently enrolled in an Executive MBA program at Brigham Young University.

Visit utahopera.org to see upcoming events associated with Creative Communities. If you have a creative idea and would like to get involved, please reach out to me!

Thank you to the many organizations and individuals who have generously donated their time and resources to support Utah Opera’s Creative Community program. Creative Communities is funded by The Getty Foundation through Opera America’s Building Opera Audiences grant program.