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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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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! 

7 things i learned in chicago

October 20, 2015

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As rain splattered on the dark sidewalks between skyscrapers, I sat in a room on the twelfth floor of a hotel shrouded in blankets and ideas. I waded through everything I’d soaked in earlier that day. I was at my first  Americans for the Arts Conference (#AFTAcon). Like the lightning outside, the conference theme, “Art Empowers us All,” flashed through my mind. All day long, quick strikes of inspiration lit up my mind. And I want to share seven of those thoughts -- those flashes of light -- with you. Come along on a trip through my mind -- and Chicago:

1. Artists are more powerful than we remember.

Theaster Gates, Urban Planner/Potter/Artist/Community Organizer, gave the keynote address. This thought is from him. After saying, "Artists are more powerful than we remember," he added, "but we can't do it alone. Check out his  Ted Talk. He's an inspiring speaker. 

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2. Having power is having purpose.

This is another thought from Mr. Gates' keynote address. In response to a question about how artists can obtain the power to make real change, he stated that he doesn't know power as anything different from purpose. Purpose, in itself, is powerful.

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3. Community engagement cannot be done at a desk. 

I went to a lot of sessions on community engagement. Real community engagement is about empowering a community to be change makers in their place. This can't be done at a desk. It has to be done out and about. It has to be done through listening. It has to be done through building a relationship.

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4. Arts were created to inspire humanity.

If we remember that the arts were created to inspire humanity, then how does this inform our discussions about equity in the arts?

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5. Do the arts matter?

Nobody at the conference was arguing that the arts don't matter, but there were a lot of conversations about relevance. How does your organization stay relevant to the community? Or, in other words, why does your art matter to the community?

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6. Re:search.

Hideo Mabuchi, physicist/potter and MacArthur Fellow, talked about the arts being a way to continue searching. He said that searching is good for your soul and your art. In what ways are you constantly searching?

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7. Find one small thing.

We may not be able to move from A to Z all at once, but we can move from A to B. So, what's one small thing you can do?

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It was an enlightening conference for me. I'm curious about what lights up for you? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. 

FYI: Did you know that Americans for the Arts will be in Salt Lake City this fall? Join us at the  National Arts Marketing Project Conference!

-Megan Attermann

Megan is the ZAP Grant and Communications Program Coordinator. She's the voice behind ZAP's  Facebook  and  Twitter  pages. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Community Leadership, with an emphasis in Arts & Cultural Leadership, from Westminster College. She collects children's books and loves teaching children's theatre. 

what makes us special makes us strong

October 20, 2015

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In the stage production Shrek, The Musical, Pinocchio and his rag-tag fairytale friends sing “Freak Flag.” It's a song that proudly declares, “What makes us special makes us strong.” There is a sense of empowerment in that lyric. At some point in all of our lives, we have felt empowered as we take in the art around us. Art can embody that phrase, and it helps us become stronger by celebrating our differences.

Picasso said: “Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.” In many ways, we are all artists. We each see the world in a unique way. The arts help us celebrate our differences and can help us to see things from someone else’s perspective. That altered perspective changes us and our lives. 

When we watch or participate in something beautiful and artistic, we leave changed. The Austrian journalist, Ernst Fischer, said, “I don’t want life to imitate art, I want life to be art.”

shrek musical in parade

Each of us, whether we are self-declared artists or not, can produce something beautiful. We should look for the art around us. And it doesn’t have to cost a penny. Sometimes we fail to see the beautiful art in our everyday lives, yet each of us has the power to create something beautiful. We don’t need to be called an “artist.” In its own special way, art can empower and transform our lives, and in turn, make us strong! 

What art do you see in your everyday life?

cast of shrek

Come see a rowdy cast of “freaks,” a big ugly ogre, a talking donkey and beautiful princess in Cottonwood Heights Arts Council’s production of Shrek, The Musical

July 25, 27, 30, 31, Aug 1, 3 | 7:30 PM | Butler Middle School | 7530 S. 2700 E. | Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121

-Kimberly Pedersen

Kimberly Pedersen is the Arts Production Manager for Cottonwood Heights. She has been involved in art for over 14 years in various community organizations. She is a passionate and avid supporter of community arts. In addition to art, the greatest joy in her life is her husband and 6 children.


meet vicki bourns

October 20, 2015

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Our very own Vicki Bourns was recently named a Utah Cultural Alliance "Pillar of the Community." Other recipients of this award were Senator Jim Dabakis and Repertory Dance Theatre. Congratulations, all!

We thought this would be a good time for you to get to know Vicki. 

How did Vicki get started?  

Victoria’s varied experience in the arts began when she was young. She recounts, “It all started with my Aunt taking my sibs and me to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s children concerts when I was in grade school. I loved those concerts. As we got older, she would play operas for us and we had competitions to see who could identify the composer first. To this day if someone says, “Hansel and Gretel,” I’m likely to yell – Engelbert Humperdinck! In high school, I continued exploring music theory, art history, dance and applied visual arts.” After receiving her BFA in Dance from the University of Utah, she earned an MFA in Arts Administration. 

What about her career?

Vicki has been involved in art activities and organizations for over 30 years. As a founding member of Dance Theater Coalition, she produced, directed, choreographed and performed in numerous original dance and theatre works. She even studied electronic music composition from Vladimir Ussachevsky, a pioneer of this unique art form.  

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Vicki has an excellent reputation for skillful administration and management and has worked for some of Utah's premier cultural organizations: Repertory Dance Theater, KUER (FM90)and the Salt Lake Acting Company. She was treasurer for the Performing Arts Coalition during the planning and implementation of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. She helped transform the Utah Citizens for the Arts into the Utah Cultural Alliance and is very proud of its accomplishments.

In 1993, she established her own company, Panella Consulting, to assist cultural organizations and other non-profits with strategic planning, board development and executive searches.

She currently directs the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks program, which distributes approximately $14 million dollars annually to over 160 arts and cultural organizations.  

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(From left: Repertory Dance Theatre (represented by Linda Smith), Vicki Bourns and Senator James Dabakis)

And awards? Well, she has those, too!

Vicki was listed in Catalyst Magazine's “Agents of Change: Catalysts in our Community" and received the 2000 Utah Arts Festival Mayor's Award for Service to the Arts. 

With persistence, skill and humor, Vicki is able to effectively guide organizations and people toward their vision for the future. Congratulations, Vicki! 

utah film center programmer tells all

October 20, 2015

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“Don’t you get sick of watching movies?” 

It astonishes me how often I am asked that question.  Each time I can feel that familiar moment, that beat, when my disdain of small talk and insignificant chatter finds itself from my stomach to my vocal cords with the go-to return of, “Yes, I do, it gets so old.”  The truth is I am hesitant to confess how great my job is and how I absolutely love it.  It feels cruel.  My job is more than a way to pay for the weekends.  I get to spend my time scouring the world for stories.  Each summer that search accumulates in July when, for three days, these found stories become more than mine; they become everyone’s.  I get to be the OkCupid, the E-Harmony, the match-maker between filmmakers and audiences.  I get to program the Damn These Heels LGBT film festival.

For over a decade, for 12 years in fact, Damn These Heels (DTH) has been a program of the Utah Film Center. In 2012 it was named a top-ten LGBT film festival in North America by IndieWire magazine.  From humble beginnings, DTH has grown-up and now finds it’s home at The Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.  Our venue now matches the ambition of the festival.  By using both the Jeanné Wagner Theatre and Leona Wagner Black Box we have been able to increase both the potential capacity and numbers of films in the festival.  This year we will have nearly 10,000 seats available for our screenings.  With 22 different titles screening over three days, the potential reach is enormous.  As LGBT cinema continues to come into it’s own and expand into mainstream, we are confident that even more growth will soon be necessary.  In 1996 Robin Williams gave us Armand Goldman in The Birdcage , 19 years later, in his final dramatic performance, Robin Williams returns in our closing night film, BOULEVARD .  Though different in genre and style, it is easy to see the evolution of LGBT cinema.  What was once specialized is now becoming universal, accepted, and embraced.

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I am straight. 

When I was made a programmer of the Damn These Heels Film Festival and asked to lead the programming committee for the festival, I was the first to doubt my resumé and abilities.   How could I, a straight man, fulfill the responsibilities and reputation that is Damn These Heels?  How can I relate to and help pick the films that people will be expecting of our program?  A lot of my trepidations eased when I watched the first of over 100 films we would screen as potential films for the festival. 

The first film I watched was The New Man .  This documentary follows Stephania, a trans-gender woman from Nicaragua, as she lives her life and tries to rekindle her lost relationship with her family.  After watching this film I knew that hers was not a story I could personally relate to, but her story, the film, it made me feel very strong feelings of compassion. It was then that I knew that I could help to program this festival.  Universals transcend genres, love transforms stereotypes, and stories can reach the heart of anyone, no matter what makes the butterflies flutter in one’s stomach.  Damn These Heels is no longer a festival just for LGBT audiences.  It is more a celebration of individuality and the road to which acceptance has found a path.  Ally and LGBT audiences now have a forum to not only share unique movie-going experiences, but also to share in the stories and emotions of this particular world.

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We needed help. 

One of the main goals and missions of Damn These Heels is to present diversity in both subject matter and experience.  To ensure such diversity, it became apparent that we needed to form a screening committee. In the end, the screening committee became a diverse group of 12 members encompassing many segments of our community.  We also had representation from each letter of our LGBT festival.  Immediately, conversations and differing opinions emerged as the screening process began.  Where one film would have one reviewer fighting back the tears, it would have another fighting the urge to pull out each strand of their hair—we knew we had something.  We had a group of 12 people discussing the stories, merits, weaknesses, and opinions, both good and bad, for each film.  We had conversation.  We knew we could now make this micro group, macro.

We, at Utah Film Center, pride ourselves in making Damn These Heels affordable and accessible for anyone that wants to attend.  We are a non-profit so we are able to keep ticket prices low.  Single tickets are only $7 and for people purchasing 10-film passes, films can be seen for as little as $3.50.  We understand that even those prices can be a challenge for some patrons so we distribute ticket vouchers to many partner community organizations so that anyone who wants to come see a film is able. We feel we have a responsibility to the community and we take that responsibility seriously.

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“Don’t you get sick of watching movies?” 

No.  Small talk has never been a strong suit of mine.  In fact, conversation and communal mores have always been slightly out of my reach of understanding.  If societal customs are like a muscle, and need to be worked to build strength, then I need to up my game.  I want to tell our city that they need to come to our festival.  I want to spread the word so each of the 22 films in the lineup has the opportunity to impact.  But, alas, that is not my strength.  My hope is that these films will be seen.  They speak for themselves in a way that I cannot.  If all the work and effort put in by our festival staff and screening committee expose a single moment of clarity, compassion, or understanding for a festival-goer, then we have succeeded.  Sometimes all it takes is that one character, and that one decision they make, in that one movie to resonate so intensively that a life is changed.  All we can do is exhibit these voices and stories. It is my pleasure to do the searching.  All I would ask in return is that people come and enjoy these beautiful stories from around the world.  They are important.

-Jeff Horne

Jeff is the Development and Programming Manager at Utah Film Center. He puts together the film lineup for the Damn These Heels LGBT film festival. The festival runs this weekend. 

utah film center teen committee member reflects on tiltshift

October 20, 2015

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The Utah Film Center’s inaugural 2015 TiltShift Festival was a blast. I had a fantastic experience as a teen committee member, and I know I won't forget it anytime soon. As a teenager, it was quite challenging. Sometimes it was overwhelming to help organize and market the festival. But, mostly, it was exciting!

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It Begins

It all began on a late night. As a teenager, most nights I’m up late -- far past the point of even bothering to try to get some sleep. It was during one of these sleepless nights that I happened to come across a retweeted message from the Utah Film Center Twitter account. The tweet jumped out at me: “Hey are you a teen that enjoys film and wants to be more involved with the film community? Click the link for an opportunity to be involved.” There I am -- well past midnight -- and I thought, “Awesome!” I followed the link and found out that resumés were due that day. I submitted mine and around noon I received a message to schedule an interview. The next day I got a call; I had been accepted for the opportunity. It all happened so fast, and it was great. 

I soon realized, after talking with Utah Film Center mentors, that because of my passion for social media, I was a good fit for the marketing team. A job that requires me to be on social media sounded great; I already spend more time on Twitter than I should. After all, that’s how I found out about the job in the first place.

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Marketing the Festival

On the marketing team, our role was to publicize the festival by means of social media, handing out fliers, doing interviews or helping place ads in local, hip newspapers. And I managed the Twitter account. I found it hilarious when I realized just how hard it is to actually manage a social media account for a festival. On my personal account, I could easily tweet the whole day away with generic teen thoughts. But when you're managing an account for a festival, it's different. I occasionally had no idea what to post, but (luckily) I had Dana Hernandez, the PR & Communications Coordinator for the Utah Film Center, to guide me when I needed help. Once I got the hang of it, managing the account seemed fairly easy. It was always interesting to interact with people, both local and from around the world, excited about the festival and featured filmmakers. We teenagers constantly complain about not being able to go on adventures across the world. At the festival, the world came to me.

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How the Challenge Changed Me

Now that the festival is over, I’ve realized what an intense learning experience it was. I gained real-world experience. Teenagers typically learn the value of money and hard work in a restaurant for minimum wage. Yes, I've had those jobs. At first they're great, but after a month or two you need something more. Teens crave a challenge. 

I learned that if you want something to be successfully accomplished, then you need to get stuff done; in the real world, there is no procrastinating. The most important thing I learned is consistency. You need to be consistent, at least with yourself, to do a good job. I’ll admit it was overwhelming at times, but it was a level of stress that I find acceptable and healthy. I am overjoyed with the attendance at the festival, and I loved all of it collectively. I really enjoyed being treated and respected as an adult under the mentorship of the Utah Film Center.

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The Festival and Beyond

Deciding on my favorite part of the festival is hard. I’m not sure that I can place one aspect of the festival above the rest. I can say that the best feelings came over me as I saw the many faces, youthful and not-so-youthful, rejoicing in the film experience. My personal admiration and respect for independent films and documentaries is why I took part in the 2015 inaugural TiltShift Festival, yet my real motivations came from knowing that there are tons more teenagers, similar to myself, that were missing out on this opportunity.

As a Marketing Teen Committee Member, I now understand what that title carries—something I wouldn’t have known had I not participated. I am excited to see what will happen next year. I hope that the TiltShift Festival will be known as the place to go if you're a local filmmaker or film lover.

-Alexis Hernandez Avila

Alex is 17 and attends American Preparatory Academy. He worked on marketing duties and managed the TiltShift Twitter account. He hopes TiltShift becomes a respected and well-known festival.










great nations deserve great art

October 20, 2015

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I have heard that great nations deserve great art. But, as an art educator, I often wonder if people really understand the importance of the arts. There is a great emphasis on science and math education; art programs are often seen as the filler. But should they be? Art requires the use of our senses and emotions to react to what we see, what we hear, or what we feel in our hearts.  Art engages us with the world at a visceral level. Art teaches us about humanity.

It’s Left to Teachers

In lower-income communities, access to art museums can be difficult. For a family of five, the museum may be too expensive, too far away or unknown due to lack of promotion in certain areas. So, the task of learning about, and understanding, art is often left to teachers – teachers with large class sizes and limited resources. Field trips to create access to the arts are coveted by art teachers. But even with one field trip per year, access is limited. Lucky teachers (like me) have close to 300 students each semester. With two semesters, that’s a total of 600 students. But buses can only fit 40 students. So, out of 600, only 40 students get to enjoy an art-related field trip – that is not enough. Learning the remarkableness of art from books alone is like learning to grow a garden from drawing daisies on paper. 

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Students created the decorations for the Christmas tree at the White House. 

Can Art Appreciation Start Earlier?

People value, respect and understand art by feeling comfortable with it from an early age. Instead of being something for fancy and sophisticated people, art can be understood as something that makes our environment more beautiful. It is something that brings joy or excitement to our soul. In places like Mexico City, where art is everywhere, art access is a right and matter of pride. Art is national patrimony; it belongs to the people. Once a week, people have free access to art museums and culture in general. Art appreciation and enjoyment is the cheapest activity; on the weekend, in multiple places around the city, complete families go to museums, galleries, parks and plazas to enjoy all kinds of art – for free. In cities like ours, however, art education and public art events sometimes feel like something for the elite.

Art Education in my Classroom

With lack of easy access to art for residents of some areas of our county, teachers like me do virtual tours and research – hoping that technology can give us a little bit of that much needed art exposure. Just this last semester, in preparation for our own self-portrait sculpting project, my students completed a “Portrait throughout History” research paper. At the end of the paper, I request that the students write a conclusion. To my amazement, one of my students wrote the following:

“The importance of sculpture in the history of human kind is immense. What we can create with our bare hands and with the help of tools is astonishing. We can learn so much about people from sculptures of the past in the sense that what they created are like books today. We can read into them and discover the artist and what things were like during that period. With sculpture we can create things from our imagination and mind. It helps creativity flow and erupt from within. The importance of art is knowledge, within sculpture and art comes the need to discover even more about ourselves, what came before us and discover more about what is within us. We find out things that are new and exciting and gain new knowledge about humanity” (J.C. Kearns High student, 2015).

When I read a conclusion like this, I realize that art is something that makes all of us not only understand each other better, but we appreciate the similarities of our greatness – no matter where we are from. Organizations like ZAP are incredibly valuable to our community because they expand the access we have to that greatness. ZAP board members work really hard to expand the appreciation of the arts, to promote the riches of our Salt Lake County community. Through ZAP, we show that we value the arts and the opinions of all of our residents. ZAP is a great asset to Salt Lake County art educators and Utah’s lifelong learning.

- Noemi Verónica Hernández Balcázar, ZAP Tier II Board Member 

Noemi is a ZAP Tier II Advisory Board Member and art teacher at Kearns High School