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It Changed Everything: A ZAP Success Story

June 07, 2017

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My name is Pilar Davis. I work in the Performing Arts and I wouldn’t be here without ZAP.

I grew up in Ogden. In the bad years. We were poor, hitting the stereotypical markers you’ve heard: public assistance, food assistance, single-parent household, brown, subsidized housing, sketchy neighborhood—you get the idea. My childhood was difficult; living in poverty is hard and full of sorrow, crushed dreams, and disappointments. When I was in the 2nd grade, my school offered the reward of a trip to Salt Lake (in the middle of the day!) to the Capitol Theatre to see a matinee performance by Repertory Dance Theatre. I was a good student and got to attend.

beaux arts design

Beaux Arts Ball, 2014

#mindblown – It was the first show I’d ever attended. It changed everything. I was hooked. I remember the show was about science and germs—taught and conveyed through dance. I had never seen ANYTHING like it, felt anything like being in the theater in the dark with 1500 other kids, and I wanted MORE.

As I got older, I was so fortunate to have several more opportunities to attend final dress rehearsals or daytime school matinees from a wide variety of Salt Lake arts companies: Ririe-Woodbury, Utah Opera, Odyssey Dance, Ballet West, Pioneer Theatre, Utah Symphony. I saw the despair and sacrifice of Madama Butterfly’s final moments. I watched the devotion and heartbreak of Quasimodo’s love for Esmeralda. I learned about space and freedom through the movement of Doug Varone and Bill T. Jones. I learned about ancient rituals, stories and civilizations that we as the human race have been sharing with each other for millennia. I became a more well-rounded citizen, and I became a storyteller, too.

college show

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Weber State University, 1999

In high school, I threw myself into theater and dreamed of gracing stages all across the world as a performer, personality and storyteller. Upon graduation, I was awarded a scholarship to Weber State University and became one of the only people in my family to go to college. My first semester, I enrolled in a required basic stagecraft class and on the first day of class I found my place in the world. My professor handed out gel sample books and fireworks exploded in my head. I had never seen so many colors in one place all neat, and beautiful and full of possibilities. It a was a simultaneously quiet and provocative moment that happened in an instant—I would be a lighting designer.

rdt at rushmore

RDT on tour at Mount Rushmore, 2016

I immediately changed majors. I transferred to the University of Utah and moved to Salt Lake City to be closer to the downtown arts scene and the greater opportunities therein. I worked a lot, and I worked hard. I met and worked with some amazing artists, professionals, and organizations. I graduated. I got married. In 2016, in a lovely poetic and full-circle turn of events, I got hired as the Production Stage Manager and Lighting Director for Repertory Dance Theatre, a position I continue to hold. I succeeded.


Lighting Director of Ailey II in his awesome hoodie, 2017

In the past 15 years, I’ve had the truly spectacular opportunities to work with national and global performance groups; I’ve created new work, new art, told new stories. I’ve laughed, cried, loved, lost—all inside the walls of the theater. I’ve lit plays, dramas, comedies, dance, musicals and opera. I’ve seen and been a part of things that are more beautiful, moving, and connecting than I could’ve imagined. 

silent sky lighting

Silent Sky, Pygmalion Productions, 2017

The performances I saw and the backstage tours I was occasionally treated to would never have come to me without ZAP; what it provides to students across the state is invaluable. I meet students everyday who look like me. They come from where I came from and worse. They deserve a chance to see and learn and be moved by the amazing work being done by arts groups all across Utah. We owe it to them and to ourselves to keep doing the right thing: teaching each other and telling our stories to each other. It makes us all better and gives so many people the greatest gift of all: hope and the space to dream.

-Pilar Davis

Currently the Production Stage Manager and Lighting Director for Repertory Dance Theatre, Pilar graduated from the University of Utah in 2003 and has worked the last 20 years across the Wasatch Front in virtually every venue and arts organization. Journeyman Member IATSE-Local 99

ZAP Kids Summer Passport Week 2(1)

June 06, 2017

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Explore Your World


Ready to get started on the ZAP Kids Summer Passport?  There is a lot of great stuff happening this week (June 6 through June 11).  Visit any of these destinations to earn stamps in your passport.  

Make your own masterpiece

Tuesday, June 6 | 4:30 PM
Bad Dog Arts at  Millcreek Library 

Thursday, June 8 | 3 PM
Bad Dog Arts at  Holladay Library

Join  Bad Dog Arts for art activities inspired by beloved children's books.  FREE

Thursday, June 8 | 3 PM
Visual Art Institute at  Herriman Library

Learn to create funny monsters in the Line Monster Game with  Visual Art Institute ! Using only pencils and sharpies, kids will create their own unique and colorful monsters all while playing an immersive game.  FREE

Bad Dog Arts - Rainbowfish


Take in a show


June 8,9 or 12 | 5 PM  


A Midsummer Night's Dream at Hale Center Theatre

Hale Centre Theatre  is offering the first 250 passport holders to call a buy one, get one free admission to one of their three Teen Production performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream on June 8, 9 or 12 at 5 PM. Participants can call HCT at  801-948-9000 to make a reservation. Then, you can show your passport at will call to receive a Hale Centre Theatre sticker in your passport.

June 9-10 | 7:30 PM


Pirates of the Carabeener at Off Broadway Theatre 

The Off Broadway Theatre  offers original family-friendly comedies and musical parodies for parents and kids alike. Catch the "Pirates of the Carabeener" this weekend before it closes! Present the ZAP Kids Summer Passport, and each member of the family will receive a $2 discount off the regular (Adult, Student/Senior, or Child) price.   

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster

Saturday, June 10 | 10 AM - 7 PM
Utah Asian Festival

Visit the 40th annual  Utah Asian Festival , where you can discover 15 Asian countries. We're celebrating Year of the Rooster with make-and-take crafts, games performances and more.
South Towne Expo Center, 9575 State Street. FREE

Utah Asian Festival  



Destinations you can visit all summer long

Earn stamps at any of these locations throughout the summer.  


Conservation Garden Park  is open to the public free of charge. Come walk through a water pipe, learn to make compost or identify plants. Explore the Garden any day of the summer and get a stamp in your passport! Garden hours are from 8 AM to 8 PM, Monday through Saturday.


Visit  Discovery Gateway Children's Museum  and explore educational workshops, programs and exhibits that inspire the whole family to discover the power of play together. Present your passport for $2 off the price of admission.


The Empress Theatre  supports local talent to provide family-oriented fun for Magna and its surrounding areas. This summer's shows are Peter and the Starcatcher and Honk Junior. If you present the ZAP Kids Summer Passport to the box office, you will get in free with the purchase of an adult ticket ($12). 


The Leonardo is a museum of creativity! Inside, you can discover the wonder of FLIGHT in their newest exhibit, delve into the mind-bending wonder of our exhibit on PERCEPTION, unleash your inner artist, scientist or engineer in one of our three hands-on laboratories, and even be moved by the exhibits in our Human Rights Gallery. Whatever you're interested in, The Leonardo will spark creativity and help you discover a whole new way to see the world. Present your passport for $2 off the price of admission.


Midvale Arts Council  is presenting free summer concerts on Friday evenings with activities provided by the Boys & Girls Club, Copperview Community Center and the local library. June 9, 16, 23, 30; July 7, 14, 21, 28 and Aug. 4. Each concert starts at 6:30 p.m. at  Midvale City Park.


Mundi Project  offers free weekly group piano lessons for beginners of all ages. Drop in for hands-on music instruction at  Salt Lake Public Library-Glendale, every Saturday beginning June 10 from 11 AM to 12 PM.   

Off Broadway Theatre




The Off Broadway Theatre  offers original family-friendly comedies and musical parodies for parents and kids alike. This summer's shows are Pirates of the Carabeener, The Marx Brothers in A Night at the Imperial, and Utahoma! Present the ZAP Kids Summer Passport, and each member of the family will receive a $2 discount off the regular (Adult, Student/Senior, or Child) price.  


Preservation Utah  will provide children with a scavenger hunt of the art and architecture of Memory Grove Park. Passport stamp and scavenger hunt can be picked up at the Memorial House (375 North Canyon Road, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM).


Salty Cricket Composers Collective offers El Sistema Summer Camps that empower young people to become effective citizens. Mention your passport when you call or email to reserve your spot at the camp to get 15% off one week's tuition. Bring your passport on the first day of camp for a stamp.  


Tracy Aviary  has more than 135 species and 400 individual birds on display. Guests are encouraged to wander its 8 acres and appreciate the different colors, sizes and sounds of our feathered friends. Present your passport at the gate for a $2 discount on the price of admission.  

Explore Instagram


Share your passport adventures using #exploreZAP for a chance to have your photo shared on ZAP's Instagram.  

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May 23, 2017

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For the last 86 years, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art has been showcasing complex and highly impactful contemporary art in Utah. But UMOCA is so much more than the contemporary artwork displayed within our walls. We are educators, artists, and innovators. 

Our goal is to inspire artistic experimentation, community enrichment and a connection to the world through engaging experiences. Our team is comprised of dedicated, passionate—and, albeit, entertaining—individuals who are mighty in our small number. Together, we help create the magic of the Museum, including designing and providing our free community art education programs that are necessary for the growth and longevity of Utah’s beautifully diverse arts culture. 

ririe woodbury dance company

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company performs in UMOCA's Main Gallery (2015).

Why Contemporary Art?

Contemporary art is a mirror of right now: our ever-changing ideas, cultures, and societies. It allows viewers to connect with others through art by providing a platform to share their stories. We can learn from one another through the narratives and ideas presented in contemporary art. And as people, places, and technology evolve, so too will contemporary art be redefined in the future. Put simply: contemporary art is each of us—our languages, our relationships, our politics, our hopes.


The opening reception of Idealogue (2016).

UMOCA aims to provide galleries and programs that create open and inclusive dialogues that help people learn how to share their ideas and express their opinions in constructive, challenging, and creative ways. The beauty of contemporary art is that it allows us to examine and relate to aspect’s of today’s world that are greater than and outside of ourselves. And UMOCA believes this is necessary for creating global citizens who are engaged in worldwide issues. It is this belief, and our passion for contemporary art, that have guided us in creating award-winning educational programs that offer opportunities for community members to explore the role of art in their lives and the life of their community. 

A Passion for Community Outreach

There is no “right” age at which you should begin or complete your art education. UMOCA’s educational programs range from family art-making projects to LGBTQ+ youth workshops to Art Fitness training for adults. Art education exists in many different forms, but the benefits of all of our community art programs are similar: they inspire the imagination, stimulate thought and transform society. 

museum goers

Museum-goers at UMOCA.

In particular, one of UMOCA’s outreach programs is the Art Truck. The Art Truck carries contemporary art from leading local and national artists all across the state, visiting individuals at schools and public venues who would otherwise have missed the opportunity to access UMOCA’s exhibitions or art education programs. 

art truck

UMOCA’s Education Facilitator Madeline Savarese leads the Art Truck discussion and workshop.

The students we visit are bright and eager to explore art. The current Art Truck exhibition is whereABOUTS by Jaime Salvador Castillo and Michael Anthony García. whereABOUTS is an immersive and interactive installation that investigates location, identity, and community. Students received a guided tour of the Art Truck with a discussion led by a trained art educator, before diving into their own art creations. Connecting students from different communities, this exhibit allows them to learn about experiences that are different from their own, while also encouraging them to think critically about their identity and place in the world. Students explore their own communities through creative map-making of their neighborhoods and share them with the rest of the class. On August 12, a second, cumulative whereABOUTS exhibition will open at the Museum, featuring an installation of collected student artwork assembled by the acclaimed artists.

outreach in art truck

A student drawing during an Art Truck visit.

UMOCA’s programs create connections: connections to art, to other people, to other places. They also build connections through to new concepts and ideas. We hope that through our community programs, we create spaces that allow individuals to build positive social connections and share their experiences with others. 

Supporting Local Artists

Our gallery spaces have held artworks by hundreds of acclaimed national and international artists, but what UMOCA focuses on is strengthening and supporting local artists. We offer residencies, exhibition opportunities, and workshops to meet the needs of artists living and working in Utah. 

family art saturday

A photo from Family Art Saturday: Glorious Goo (2016). 

Utah has a rich contemporary arts culture, with new and experimental artists emerging from nearby and local art programs, as well as established artists who have been working in Utah for many years. Creative Utahns distribute zines, post images of their work to social media, and run brick-and-mortar artist studios, organize creative activist interventions, and more. These artists create important dialogues across the state by sharing their visions through contemporary media. UMOCA offers opportunities for local artists to not only display their work in our gallery spaces but also build their local and national network of art lovers and art professionals by hosting panel discussions, receptions, and workshops.

UMOCA supports artists whose roots are grounded in Utah, so that we can continue to build the creative vibrancy of our state. 

Supporting Utah Communities

UMOCA is proud to support local artists and communities, but we couldn’t do it without the support of our sponsors and donors, especially Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks. Strengthening the arts in our society is key to supporting the healthy growth of our communities.

out loud group photo

Group photo from UMOCA’s 2017 Out Loud Opening Reception of Identities, Symbolism, and the Self. 

Contemporary art will always exist, and will continue to flourish and grow with time. New artists will write and rewrite its definition endlessly, passing their notes, thoughts and mediums onto generations to come. Nothing could be more exciting to UMOCA than the opportunity to be a part of creative community building through contemporary art-making long into the future. UMOCA represents the spirit of innovation, experimentation, and dialogue surrounding the issues of our time.  

-Alex Vermillion

Alex Vermillion is the Communications Coordinator at UMOCA, soon to attend the Yale School of Drama in the fall. In zir free time, Alex writes theatre reviews and interviews awesome locals for SLUG Magazine. On weekends, you can catch Alex performing with zir group of queer artists, or hiking around Utah’s beautiful landscape. 

About the Kids Summer Passport

May 23, 2017

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explore your world with the zap kids summer passport

What is the ZAP Kids Summer Passport?

The passport will challenge you to visit new places. We know you like to explore. And we know exploring the world around you can help you build a better world. That's why we hope you'll join our journey to explore some of the best places in our own backyards. So, grab a passport -- and a friend -- and discover the superb destinations around you. 

How does it work?

  1. Pick up a passport at your local Salt Lake County Library (while supplies last).*
  2. Visit the destinations listed in the passport between June 2 and August 20. Ask the destination to "stamp" your passport. 
  3. Get "stamps" from five different destinations.
  4. Bring your passport back to the library to reserve your spot at the Final Destination Celebration at Clark Planetarium. It will be out of this world. 

*While you're at the Library, take the Summer Reading Challenge for even more chances to win! 

Do I need a passport for each child?

No. One passport works for the entire family. However, if each child wants their own passport, they are welcome to have their own. Just tell your librarian that you want one passport per child.

Who can participate?

The ZAP Kids Summer Passport is open to youth ages 17 and under. 

How do I document my journey?

While you're getting "stamps" in your passport, you can document your journey online. Take pictures of your trip, so you can remember the new places you visited. If you post your picture online, use #exploreZAP for a chance to have your journey highlighted on ZAP's Instagram.

Can I keep my passport?

Yes. When you take your passport to the library, the librarians will check that you have five stamps and will give you the instructions for how to RSVP to the Final Destination Celebration. You can keep your passport as a souvenir. 


What is the Final Destination Celebration?

If you visit five different destinations, take your passport back to your County library. You'll get instructions on how to reserve your spot for the Final Destination Celebration at Clark Planetarium on August 30 from 3 PM to 7 PM. If you attend the celebration, you'll be entered to win amazing journeys to even more cool places:

Winners will be chosen at random and must attend the Final Destination Celebration in order to win. 

Do I need to pay to get in to the Final Destination Celebration?

No. Children and parents are invited to attend for free. In fact, Clark Planetarium is free to attend at any time. Movies and light shows are usually an extra cost that will be free for our final destination celebration. 

What if I visited a Destination this summer before I had a passport?

Feel free to have your parent sign that you attended. We run on the honor system, and we're glad you visited a Destination! 


Learn more about the Kids Summer Passport.


Passport Cover Design Contest

May 22, 2017

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We asked you what zoo, arts and parks mean to you. Children from across the county submitted designs through their local library. We got a lot of great designs, and the competition to choose the winning design was so close. Each of the designs was so good.

We are happy to announce that Adventure is right outside your front door, by Sophia, got the most votes. This design will be printed on the front of our Kids Summer Passport this year! Congratulations, Sophia!

sophia wins with adventure is right outside your front door


#1. Elephant by Hailey, Age 6, Taylorsville

Medium: Crayon

elephant by hailey


#2. Adventure is right outside your front door by Sophia, Age 14, Draper

Medium: Pen & Colored Pencil

adventure is right outside your front door by Sophia


#3. The Wolf of the Moon by Ella, Age 11, West Valley City

Medium: Pen, Colored Pencil & Marker

the wolf of the moon by ella

 Learn more about the Kids Summer Passport.

Travel the World at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

May 17, 2017

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children of hangzhou logo

Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China is the newest exhibit at Discovery Gateway, opening to the public on May 19. Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China presents four children from Hangzhou in several environments, including at home, at school, and in the countryside. The Chinese children will introduce themselves through media and the activities of their daily lives. Visitors will discover that Chinese life today mixes ancient traditions with modern lifestyles. This exhibit is a bridge to learn about China and build cross-cultural understanding. It features original artwork created to present a unique Chinese aesthetic that delivers an immediate and unmistakable impression: You are in China.

child in exhibit

Through this exhibit, Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum strives to increase awareness around China. In distinctively Chinese settings, visitors will “meet” children with different interests and in different environments. The exhibit will dispel stereotypes and demystify the nation of China. It is organized into several components with lessons and activities woven throughout.

trying on chinese clothing

Discovery Gateway membership holders are invited to preview the exhibit on Thursday, May 18 from 1 – 3 pm. The grand opening of Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China will be Friday, May 19 from 11 am – 2 pm. Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum will also host several Chinese Dual Immersion school groups and encourage them to put their studies to practice by engaging with the exhibit in their secondary language. The grand opening will kick off with a Lion Dance performed by Calvin Smith Elementary students, and several performances by artists from Utah’s Chinese community will follow. The University of Utah’s Confucius Institute will provide hands-on activities for children and families including Chinese paper cutting, origami, and calligraphy.  

child playing with exhibit

Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China was produced by Boston Children’s Museum as part of the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series, funded by The Freeman Foundation and administered by Association of Children’s museums. All underlying materials, including all artwork and the use of Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China characters are used with permission of Boston Children’s Museum.

-Kristin Jahne

Kristin Jahne is the Marketing Coordinator at Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. When she’s not fixing member issues or analyzing data, you can find her interacting with patrons around the museum or helping plan events for DG members.

Ticket Tuesday with Pinnacle Acting Company

May 16, 2017

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Pinnacle Blog in Color

A winner has been chosen for this Ticket Tuesday with Pinnacle Acting Company. Congrats to Maria N. in West Jordan! Stay tuned for future giveaways.

Chicks and Chirps: Edward's Pheasants at Tracy Aviary

May 11, 2017

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logo for tracy aviary

The weather is warming up, bulbs are blooming, and for Tracy Aviary, it means its hatching season. In March, Tracy Aviary welcomed the hatching of five Edwards’s Pheasant chicks! Edwards’s Pheasants are found in only three provinces in central Vietnam and are thought to be extinct in the wild, which makes this hatching all the more exciting!  Tracy Aviary participates in a Species Survival Plan to breed this beautiful bird, increase their numbers in captivity, and ensure they have a future.  The chicks are currently being raised by their mom and dad in the lush Treasures of the Rainforest exhibit and getting accustomed to finding food on their own, flying, and exploring their habitat. Edwards’s Pheasants are very secretive and prefer to spend their time hiding under dense foliage while foraging on the ground for food. The keepers are providing mealworms, crickets, and specially formulated pheasant pellets for the family to eat. Sometimes it is difficult to see the chicks, as mom can be very protective, but if you listen closely you can hear the family chirping to each other as they explore their habitat.

tracy aviary pheasanttracy aviary chick

The chicks should reach their adult weight by the time they are 6 months old.  Males weigh about 900 grams where females weigh about 600 grams. We will be able to tell if they are male or female by the time they are 3 months old based on their feather coloration. Exposing them to important husbandry tools like scales will help us monitor their growth and overall health throughout their life without being too invasive in their daily behaviors. Waxworms, which we also refer to as “bird candy”, are a great way to reward these brave little birds for their curiosity in stepping up on the scale! These precious little chicks are vital to the future of their species, so to see them growing so well is very exciting.

chick on a scale at tracy aviary

Visitors will have fun searching for these little chicks inside Treasures of the Rainforest and will be thrilled when they catch sight of them! As an open air exhibit, Treasures of the Rainforest is a unique experience where guests get to see birds free-flying around them.

multiple chicks at tracy aviary

Guests should plan a visit to Tracy Aviary soon, for these chicks won’t be chicks for long! Along with exploring Treasures of the Rainforest, guests will be able to participate in fun summer programming. Our busy summer schedule includes something for everyone - daily bird shows, nature play for the kids, daily feeding opportunities, nose-to-beak encounters, and concerts the second Sunday of the month (June-September). Tracy Aviary is open Monday-Sunday, 9am-5pm, with later hours on Monday nights (open till 8pm June-August). For more information visit

colorful birds at tracy aviary

-Julie Roehner

Julie Roehner is the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Tracy Aviary. New to the Aviary, she is enjoying learning about all of the species on grounds from the rest of Tracy Aviary staff. 

Ticket Tuesday with Tracy Aviary

May 08, 2017

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Tracy Aviary 2017
A winner has been chosen for this Ticket Tuesday giveaway courtesy Tracy Aviary. Congrats to Robert M. in Taylorsville!

Justice-Seeking Super Robot Takes on Arts Education

May 02, 2017

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Or, How I Switched From a Deficit Mindset to an Asset-based Approach

Editor's note: This blog originally appeared on Americans for the Arts' ArtsBlog.


Let’s get something out of the way at the beginning. For me, art is about connection.

Now, a story.

I remember it distinctly. I was dressed like a robot. It was Halloween, and I was at recess when I heard it. Name calling! As a machine, I was brave enough to stand up and say that wasn’t okay with me. Even as a preschooler, I was obsessed with inclusion. I found power in fighting the good fight. I wasn’t just a regular robot that day. I was a justice-seeking super robot.

Fast forward.

I found the arts. I took piano lessons, went to Shakespeare camp, and sang poorly in high school musicals. Arts education was a big part of my childhood. It was so ingrained in my experience that I felt every child must have had these same opportunities.

But that isn’t the case.

Fast forward to my first jobs outside college.

As a teacher, and former justice-seeking super robot, I saw a need. Low-income children of color weren’t in my Shakespeare classes. If art is about connection, why wasn’t I seeing that reflected in my classes?

I went back to school. I was going to learn how to save the world by connecting art to low-income children of color. 

Thankfully, I learned that I was fighting the wrong fight. Access to arts education wasn’t a bad goal, but simply having access to arts education wouldn’t bring real connection or equity. Simply put, traditional arts education often does not value low-income communities of color.

For example, I read about a public, arts-focused charter school. Students of color interviewed in the article explained that their dance class spent one “token” week on hip-hop as a break from “foundational” ballet.

Or there are the myriad stories about low-income students of color who weren’t deemed “talented” enough to be placed in the elite youth orchestra because they hadn’t had the opportunity to take lessons as a young child. These cases are real and common. And they demonstrate that communities of color are consistently undervalued by traditional arts education.

In these situations, arts education was not the road to connection. Structures like this perpetuate inequity. I had to learn that. I needed to recognize that by saying this community needed Shakespeare, I was saying I had the power to define what art is. This happens a lot. And it usually favors Eurocentric art.

I don’t have anything against Shakespeare, but I didn’t need to bring Shakespeare or Bach or Monet to low-income students of color that needed art. What I needed to do was recognize that art is already in every community, and that students have their own power to create art. I needed to shift my approach.

So instead of entering a community as a teacher and bringing a prescribed text or curriculum, I would enter as a learner. I needed to value the community and learn from them. I needed to connect with my students—to see their stories and experiences as equal to my own. To see my students for more than their perceived needs.

I needed a new approach to arts education. So, I scanned the literature, and I found an approach that works with, and values, oppressed groups. It’s called an asset-based arts education.

An asset-based arts education works in solidarity with the community. It is mutually beneficial and builds social capital. The programming must be multicultural and value a diversity of stories and voices. And, finally, the work and environment must be empowering and participant-led. (I wonder how this approach might work beyond the classroom.)

I got a chance to put this method to the test. I worked with a group of amazing students at an afterschool program, and the biggest thing I learned seemed simple. I learned hope. There is reason to hope for a better, more equitable, world.

And it isn’t going to be me that saves it.

It’s going to be my students.

In a world that oppresses my students and tells them no (loudly and often), they practiced a playful resistance and claimed their power. They even wrote this line for our play:

“I am equal. Life is equal. No life is higher than another.”

This line was more beautiful and meaningful to us than Shakespeare ever could have been.

A more connected world is possible. And I didn’t need to be a justice-fighting super robot. I just needed to be human. To shut my mouth. To connect. To listen. To learn. And, because I focused on the assets of my students, they (thankfully!) saw some good in me, too. That’s real connection.

And who doesn’t want to live in a world like that?

-Megan Attermann

Megan Noyce Attermann is the Grant and Communication Program Manager for the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) Program. She has a Master of Arts in Community Leadership, with an emphasis in Arts and Cultural Leadership, from Westminster College, and a BA in Theatre Arts and English from the University of Puget Sound. She sits on the advisory committee for the Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professionals and loves to teach afterschool classes.