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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 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. 

a tier ii update

October 20, 2015

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tier 2 summary

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

October 20, 2015

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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.

tumbleweeds - patrick

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 - kids

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.

tumbleweeds - audiences

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 - eneberker

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 - families

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!

-Patrick Hubley

Founder /Director - Tumbleweeds Film Festival; Artistic Director - Utah Film Center

The Tumbleweeds Film Festival runs September 25 - 27.

local stories local stage

October 20, 2015

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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.

betsy quote - plan b

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.

true story







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.

Visit 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.
Kirt Bateman

Plan-B is a place where artists live, where ideas can thrive.
Bill Allred

Plan-B is a voice that’s relevant to where I live, when I’m living, and who I’m living with.
Stephen Brown

Plan-B means a home for Utah writers, a stage for Utah stories.
Julie Jensen

Plan-B means a life buoy thrown to a drowning man.
Eric Samuelsen

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.
Carleton Bluford

Plan-B is locally-sourced handmade artisanal theatre.
Rob Tennant

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.
Susan Miller

Plan-B is family.
Mark Fossen

Plan-B is home.
April Fossen

Plan-B is home.
Stephanie Howell

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.
Camden Chamberlain

Plan-B is the opportunity to explore and challenge yourself.
David Spencer

Plan-B means making what was hope a reality.
Jenifer Nii

Plan-B means there’s always another way to see things.
Dave Mortensen

Plan-B means community.
Jay Perry

Plan-B means togetherness.
Daisy Blake Perry

Plan-B is a bold, daring and supportive home for SLC actors and playwrights.
Scott Smith

Plan-B means a place for challenging, engaging, and imaginative theatre. It’s a gem!
Bob Nelson

Plan-B is the best theatre company in Utah providing socially conscious theatre at an incredible value.
Benjamin Brown

Plan-B means fearlessness.
Jason Tatom

Plan-B means unbelievable opportunities.
Teresa Sanderson

Plan-B is thought-provoking and world-bettering.
Kevin Emerson

Plan-B is a theatrical amplifier exposing thought-provoking and original works by local artists to Utah audiences and beyond.
Teri Cowan

Plan-B  is where anyone can learn to expand their mind, heart, and soul.
Sarah Young

Plan-B is theatre that makes me think for a week.
Jesse Nix

Plan-B is a work of art that challenges me.
Melissa Rasmussen

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).
Larry West

Plan-B means brave, new theatre.
Betsy West

Plan-B is a supportive team that puts story first.
Matthew Greene

Plan-B means challenging theatre – a force that moves you in the right direction.
Topher Rasmussen

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.
Jason Bowcutt

Plan-B is part of the heart of our community. It brings joy, thought and hope.
Michael Aaron

Plan-B means opportunity and inspiration.
Lauren Byington-Noll

Plan-B is a place where theatre artists in our community can come together to make their very best offerings.
Christy Summerhays

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.
Jim Martin

Plan-B is always thought-provoking scripts that are well acted.
Beth Bruner

Plan-B means exciting, innovative, and intimate theatre.
Debora Threedy

Plan-B means courage.
Logan Tarantino

Plan-B is an important part of my SLC.
Mike Thompson

Plan-B means mental stimulus to me.
Latoya Rhodes

Plan-B is telling stories without precedent.
Phillip R. Lowe

Plan-B means thought-provoking theatre.
Elaine Jarvik

Plan-B means enlightenment.
Jennifer Freed

Plan-B is theatre with substance.
Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin

Plan-B means life-changing experiences for me.
Jayne Luke

Plan-B means reshaping artistic and conversational boundaries for me.
Martine Kei Green-Rogers

Plan-B is creativity on steroids.
Kay Shean

Plan-B is the only socially-relevant stage to me.
Sean Sekino

Plan-B shows me the human condition in stories that I would not otherwise encounter. I have to think and stretch my mind.
Karen Duncan

Plan-B means I get thought-provoking theatre by local Utah playwrights and actors.
Brian Doughty

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.
Colleen Baum

Plan-B is honest and artful storytelling.
Emma Munson

Plan-B means outstanding opportunities for actors, playwrights, artists, and audiences.
Charles Lynn Frost

Plan-B is a path to discovery.
Claire Wilson

Plan-B means home grown: local actors, local playwrights, global conversations. But mostly Plan-B means “Theatre Christmas.”
Kyle Lewis

Plan-B is inspirational.
Tia Byington-Noll

Plan-B is a relevant, artistic voice for our unique community and culture.
Tyson Baker

Plan-B means learning something new.
Michael Johnson

Plan-B means a delightfully unsettling theatre experience.
Chriss Meecham

-Jerry Rapier

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 Oscar.


summer forever

October 20, 2015

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summer forever in holladay

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.

holladay - blue moon fest

I also love working as a coordinator for the City of Holladay’s Arts Council.  

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!  

blue moon fest

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

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 dancers eyes

October 20, 2015

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tiana lovett - through a dancers 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

rdt - 1

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. 

rw - 1

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.

  dance - 1

Tyler Orcutt (Repertory Dance Theatre) 

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.

salt lake dance 

Yebel Gallegos (Ririe-Woodbury) 

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

-Tiana Lovett

Tiana 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.

gale center of history culture

October 20, 2015

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family at gale center

The History

The City of South Jordan’s museum, Gale Center of History & Culture, was originated by several long-time residents to create a place to learn about, appreciate and experience the rich history of South Jordan City. 

In 1859, the first homesteaders found land in the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley for their crops and animals. Families came here to build a life together in a new place, start traditions and build memories that could be passed down to future generations. Today, our resources still include a rich environment and enthusiasm of hardworking citizens. As a result, our City boasts comfortable homes, thriving commercial development, modern manufacturing, varied cultural and academic opportunities, and beautiful open space for recreation.

A Walk Through the Museum

Visitors to the Gale Center of History & Culture enjoy; explore; learn; and discover the history and story behind the development of South Jordan. We reach families with children, retirees with grandchildren, school groups, scout troops, activity day girls, visitors and tourists to South Jordan, and the art community.

A lot of our museum visitors are drawn to the interactive areas and enjoy playing in the schoolhouse. They sit at the original teacher's desk and ring the school bell. They move on to a replica house and pretend to be an early South Jordan pioneer while wearing old time bonnets and aprons, cooking dinner, setting the table and hanging clothes on the line. And what is more fun than shopping at the old H&E store? Children pick up their baskets and shop for their fruit, vegetables and canned goods. They can even take them to the scale and cash register.

Our Programs

The Gale Center of History & Culture also offers a monthly Terrific Tuesday program, which is family friendly and includes fun activities like arts and crafts, guest speakers, movies, games, demonstrations and storytellers.


The Gale Center of History & Culture offers art programming and a monthly Resident on Display program that spotlights an artist or photographer from South Jordan. We love to show off the amazing talent of the residents of South Jordan! The Gale Center also features, annually, a gingerbread house contest and an art show.  

gale center - art show

The Gale Center of History & Culture will celebrate its ten year anniversary on July 1, 2016. Planning for exciting, celebration activities is already underway.

Join Us  

We invite you to visit the Gale Center of History & Culture and experience Grandma’s House; the Schoolhouse; our farm equipment; the Dugout; and much more.

grandmas house

The Gale Center of History & Culture has 32 full-time, volunteer docents that allow us to be open Tuesday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., with one full-time Museum Coordinator.  For more information, or questions, please feel free to contact me at 801-254-3742.

Candy Ponzurick is the Gale Center of History and Culture Museum Coordinator. Candy is a member of the American Association for State and Local History, and the Western Museums Association. Candy is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but has worked for South Jordan City for 20 years and greatly appreciates the museum sharing the history and story behind the development of South Jordan.

zap partners with the salt lake county fair

October 20, 2015

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slco fair title

The Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) Program is excited about its new-this-year partnership with the Salt Lake County Fair. We invited ZAP grantees to participate in the festivities at the fair. We're pleased to announce that the following groups will join the fun:

We are thrilled to see you at the fair. If you want to learn more about the events at the Salt Lake County Fair, visit their website. Admission is free and parking is $10. We're excited to see this partnership develop!


mosaic mural shaping up in south salt lake with mural artist roger whiting

October 20, 2015

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We at the South Salt Lake Arts Council and City Hall are brimming with excitement as we see the progress that is being made on a mosaic mural project for our Central Park Community Center, located at 2830 South 200 East in South Salt Lake.  Central Park is one of the nine South Salt Lake Neighborhood Centers, located in schools and community-based locations, that serve South Salt Lake’s children, youth, families, seniors, and people who work in South Salt Lake through academic, arts-based, physical fitness/recreation, social, and cultural programs at no or low cost.  The centers improve quality of life and also provide a place for community involvement, volunteerism, and networking.

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South Salt Lake and SSL Arts Council have been working with mural artist, Roger Whiting, on creating a mural that represents the diverse interests and cultures of youth who attend our Central Park Community Center.   Roger has an impressive background in creating fabulous works of art for communities, businesses, and individuals alike.  You can learn more about his work by visiting his website,  

His passion lies in working with disadvantaged youth and helping their talents and expression find their way into the designs of his murals.  Roger spent time working with the youth of South Salt Lake’s Promise After School Program in creating the ideas for the Central Park mural and how they wanted these ideas to be represented.  

According to Roger, “the youth at Central Park are so creative. This project reflects the joy and enthusiasm they have for life.” 

With Roger’s help, boxes of porcelain tile were smashed into small pieces, and then carefully arranged and adhered on sheets of mesh that will eventually be hung on the walls of the entrance to Central Park.  The Arts Council wishes to thank the Sorenson Legacy Foundation for generously providing a portion of the funding to make this mural possible.

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The photos below show the concepts the youth developed for the mural.  The youth will be involved with creating the colorful mural, while Roger will work further on the black, white, and red Central Park sign, also done in mosaic, that will be placed above the mural.  We are looking forward to seeing how this mural will add vibrancy to our building, but especially seeing the youth excited about their contributions to this permanent art installation.  Many thanks and a shout out to the staff of Promise South Salt Lake and the Central Park After School Program for their support in allowing this project to take place.

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Stop by and see the progress next time you are in the area.  And we hope that this will be the first of many mosaic projects in South Salt Lake, so stay tuned!

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-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.

what can we say in 140 characters or less

October 20, 2015

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I considered tweeting this entire post over a day or so. How would you like that flooding your feed? #NotSoMuch #IThoughtSo.

A big part of my job is wrapped up in posting and tweeting.

I love promoting all the events, performances, classes and opportunities that ZAP-funded organizations offer. I enjoy seeing the good work these organizations are doing. Mostly, I relish in connecting with the public – the people of Salt Lake County.

But I have a confession to make. I hate Facebook. Seriously. (Kind of).

Facebook and I have a love/hate relationship. I’ve dumped it… twice. My most recent return to Facebook was prompted by a need to, yet again, familiarize myself with the ever-changing medium due to a surprise-addition to a past job description. Now, with my new job (which is the best job ever!) at Salt Lake County, I’ll probably be keeping it for good.  

I’m not too sad about it now. I’m ready to commit.

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I’m putting down roots because of the potential, I think.

Yes, I believe in the power of social media as a marketing tool. But, even more, I believe in the power of social media as a tool for connection. In a world where people identify lack of time as the most common barrier to attending the arts ( NEA Barriers to Arts Attendance), what better way to connect with our audiences than to meet them on their phone while they’re on the go?

But how can we connect with our audiences in a more meaningful way? Social media marketing the way we currently do it works, but is it best? Does promotion, promotion, promotion ever get tiring? These are all real questions I’ve been asking. And they’re questions I don’t necessarily have the answer to. Do you?

I recently read a blog post entitled “ Bringing Backstage Onstage with Social Media.” It’s from 2013. In the break-neck world of social media, it could have been written a hundred years ago. But, honestly, I think arts organizations are still figuring this one out. I recommend you take a peek, if you haven’t already.

The author describes a few scenarios. A playwright writes a play in a storefront window while the document is projected on a screen to passersby in real time. A man creates a virtual choir – gathering voices from across the planet. A museum uses Pinterest for internal communication about museum design and programming – and all of this is pin-able and accessible to the public. What do all of these projects have in common? They proudly display the work of creating. And they invite the public to be a part of the work, too.

Social media isn’t going away. At least not any time soon. Why don’t I see more invitations like this?

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We’re protective of our craft.

I understand that. There are copyrights and personal protections to consider. I get it. But, for me at least, I didn’t fall in love with theatre because I saw a play. I fell in love with theatre when I was in my first show. To me, the process was much more magical than the performance could ever be. Knowing the process helped me appreciate and love the product so much more. Is it that way for you?

Maybe it’s about vulnerability. Are we nervous about sharing the unfinished, unpolished work we do? It’s a vulnerable position to be in. A position that is displaying what is not yet done. Not yet perfected. A position that is learning. But, in my experience, it’s the vulnerable moments that make life worth living. And isn’t that what art does best? It pokes at all our vulnerable spots to show us (and remind us) we’re human.

Sorry, I’m philosophizing. Let me get back to the point. How can we share the work we do (the good, the bad and ugly) on social media? How can we remind our audiences that we’re human and it’s hard work to create and be vulnerable? How can we build real audience relationships over social media? How can we invite people to join us in the process?

And then, at some point, we will need to make connections in real life.

We will need to speak face-to-face. We will need to experience something together in real time, in person. But might social media be the impetus for this meeting? And how much more meaningful will that experience be if we’ve already built something together?

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I don’t think social media is the answer to all our audience development problems. But, if we start thinking creatively (which is what we do best) about it, it could be one of the answers.

So, now I want to hear from you.

There are a lot of questions in this post. It’s pretty much full of questions. If you’re part of an arts organization, what do you think? What ideas do you have to make social media more meaningful? How are you inviting audiences to be a part of your work? If you’re a member of the public, how would you like arts organizations to relate to you on social media?

Let’s hear it. Post a comment below!