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Local Arts Agencies Are Alive and Thriving in Salt Lake County

May 11, 2016

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

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

south salt lake mural project

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

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

holladay arts is working with the refugee community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway with Mountain West Ballet

May 10, 2016

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Ticket Tuesday- Mtn West 2

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

NOVA Chamber Music ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway

April 18, 2016

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nova chamber music

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

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

ZAP Ticket Tuesday with Tanner Humanities Center

April 05, 2016

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Tanner Humanities- Ticket Tuesday NTL Coriolanus

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

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

ZAP Ticket Tuesday with Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake

March 29, 2016

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CMS Ticket Tuesday

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

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

Stay tuned for our next giveaway!

ZAP Ticket Tuesday with Tanner Dance

March 22, 2016

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Tanner Dance- Ticket Tuesday

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

Stay tuned for our next Ticket Tuesday Giveaway!

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway for globalFEST

March 15, 2016

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globalfest at utahpresents  

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

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

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

March 14, 2016

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Tanner Humanities in a Nutshell

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

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

suzan lori-parks with a guitar

A Visit from Suzan-Lori Parks

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

suzan-lori parks signs student books


Suggestions from Parks

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

students attend a workshop with parks

A Workshop with Parks

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

suzan lori parks laughing

About Suzan-Lori Parks

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


Sponsors/partners for this event included:

University of Utah


-Susan Anderson

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


With Doors Closed, UMFA Still Delivers

March 09, 2016

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As we prepared to temporarily close the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) this year, to upgrade our vapor barrier and reinstall our galleries, we heard one question over and over: But what will the staff do?

The answer: Find ways to fulfill our mission even with the doors closed. Handed a challenge and a gift -- one year to reimagine the UMFA -- our staff of hard-working, passionate arts professionals hasn't wasted a minute.

First we threw a two-day going-away party in January that filled both floors of the Marcia and John Price Museum Building with thousands of people. 

long live art dance party

long live art party gallery visitors

Then we rolled up our sleeves and began chipping away at our ambitious to-do lists. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how we're keeping the fires hot under three of our biggest goals:

Protecting the art.

That's what this project is all about. Improving the vapor barrier will help us maintain the optimal humidity level for fine art. It will also ensure a long lifespan for the architecturally significant building that protects the nearly 20,000 objects in our collection.

Most of the art will be stored onsite. Last fall collections staff members began removing and packing the 200 or so objects on view—painstaking work, some of it tricky. Remember Moab I, the massive relief sculpture in our lobby? Its thirty-six stoneware tiles were carefully removed, individually photographed, assessed, recorded in our database, and then packed into specially made foam-lined wooden crates.

moab 1 de-installation in progress

moab 1 de-installation - all hands on deck

The process is much the same for every object -- which means all hands on deck.

umfa executive director gretchen dietrich helps deinstall robert smithson's leaning mirror

conservator robyn haynie leads art-handling training for staff and volunteers

jazmin gallegos - education and engagement intern - helps deinstall tony fehers site-specific installation they arrived yesterday dusty and weary from the journey but in good spirits

haynie uses a special hepa-filtered vacuum to perform routine cleaning on a painting removed from the european galleries

Keeping the community engaged. 

We’re still delivering great art experiences to our adult and family audiences. The UMFA’s ingenious and award-winning educators have figured out ways to make many programs portable. Our perennial favorite (and ZAP-funded!) Third Saturday for Families free art-making program is continuing every month, just a few doors down at the U’s Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts & Education Complex. Our pARTnersprogram, which has brought every fourth-grader in Salt Lake City public schools into  the UMFA twice each year for more than thirty years, is now being delivered directly to student classrooms. The Traveling Museum Project, Museum in the Classroom, and other outreach programs continue to bring hands-on art experiences to communities in every corner of the state. Our Spiral Jetty Family Backpacks can now be checked out (free!) at the Salt Lake City Public Library. 

logan meyers, partners coordinator, helped modify this vital program to bring an authentic museum experience directly to fourth-grade classrooms

students enjoy the museum experience in their own classroom

child takes in the spiral jetty with a umfa family backpack on his back

We’ve also kicked off two new programs.

  • ARTLandish: Land Art, Landscape, and the Environment is an exciting monthly series of talks, films, meet-ups, and more that explore our complex relationship with the world around us.
  • ACME Sessions, a partnership with The City Library, are bimonthly public roundtable discussions meant to inspire new models of education and community engagement through art. (We’re cooking up other exciting projects with The City Library. More on that soon!) We expect these conversations to generate ideas for an exciting new experimental space we’ll launch when the UMFA reopens, the ACME Lab.

Preparing brand new experiences for visitors in 2017.

The upside of watching the galleries empty is anticipating what they’ll look and feel like next year. Curators are busy planning our new European, American, regional, Asian, African, and modern and contemporary galleries, rediscovering treasures in our vast collection and rethinking how we present them. We’re remodeling other spaces, too, all with an eye toward making the Museum more accessible and welcoming to everyone. Not least among the many decisions to make: what colors to paint the walls. Goodbye, guava! 

preparator aaron hardy creates swatches for staff to consider in selecting the new wall color for the great hall

long live art gallery visitors saying see you later to the museum

That’s where we are, barely two months into this metamorphic year. Keep up, and enjoy more behind-the-scenes photos and stories, by signing up for our e-newsletter or following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

-Mindy Wilson

Mindy Wilson is the PR & marketing director at the UMFA. She joined the Museum staff in January 2013 after relocating to Salt Lake City from Georgia, where she was managing editor of the award-winning literary journal The Georgia Review. A freelance editor and writer, she loves exploring her new home city, state, and region with her husband, writer Michael Mejia, and Atticus, their Jack Russell terrier.

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway with Ririe-Woodbury

March 08, 2016

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Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Ticket Tuesday

A winner was chosen to receive 2 tickets to Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company's SPRING SEASON (April 7-9).  If you didn't win this time, we hope you can still make it to the performance. And keep entering our #ZAPTicketTuesday giveaways!

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is funded in part by a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks.