Supporting Culture During Difficult Times
Like the rest of the globe, the Division of Arts & Museums was deeply affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Several weeks before the pandemic hit Utah in March of 2020, a number of staff began working from home to allow for renovations of the agency’s headquarters, the Glendinning Home. This was a fortunate coincidence that meant many of the staff already had the tools they needed to work remotely.
As staffers were getting used to remote work in mid-March, Salt Lake City was hit by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. During the quake, the state’s art storage racking system for the Alice Merrill Horne Art Collection collapsed, pinning 873 works beneath the metal screens. Remarkably, most of the damage was to frames rather than the works themselves, and many pieces suffered no damage at all. Our agency’s collections staff is working with the state’s insurance to replace the storage system and repair any damage to artworks.
In response to the pandemic, the division received CARES Act funding (from the National Endowment for the Arts) of $443,100 to distribute to cultural organizations. We also used state funds to provide emergency relief funding to individual artists. Our director began a regular e-newsletter with information and resources for the cultural sector, and our agency collaborated with partner agencies to produce a regular webinar containing information for the cultural sector. In-person events have been made virtual, including the Mountain West Arts Conference keynote address, exhibitions, and Breaking Barriers (our cultural accessibility training program). We also instituted virtual conversations with our constituents to share resources.
COVID-19 has impacted our ability to meet with our constituents in person. We had to cancel a number of in-person consultations, Traveling Exhibitions, workshops, and other professional development. This has resulted in lower numbers and percentages for our performance measures.
Olivia Slaughter, a senior from the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, has participated in Poetry Out Loud since 9th grade. She is Utah’s 2020 Poetry Out Loud champion. This fall, she will enroll at Barnard College in New York City as a biology and English major.
Women To The Front
“Women to the Front: Perspectives on Equality, Gender, and Activism” is a curated exhibition commemorating two milestone celebrations of women’s suffrage: the 150th anniversary of Utah women becoming the first to vote in the modern nation, and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that gave women in the U.S. the right to vote. The exhibition showcases work by 15 Utah contemporary artists, and artwork by six of the artists was purchased and added to the State of Utah Alice Merrill Horne Art Collection to mark these milestone anniversaries.
Artist Roger Stoller installed his 18’ stainless-steel sculpture, “Wing Helix,” at the Human Performance Center Facility on the Dixie State University campus. The work literally references the academic and physical sciences being pursued in the new facility while conceptually honoring the human drive to transcend the human condition. Artists Carol May and Tim Watkins created their immersive experiential sculpture, “Echo Canyon,” for the new campus of the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind in Springville. The installation provides multi-sensory experiences for children of all abilities at the main entry of the new facility.
Breaking Barriers, a partnership between Art Access and the Arts & Museums, provides disability accessibility training and mentorship to cultural institutions and focuses on solutions to accessibility barriers in organizations. Workshops focus on accessibility needs for people in the following communities: blind and low vision, physical mobility, neurodiverse and sensory, developmental, and deaf/hard-of-hearing/deaf blind. In FY20, seven organizations participated: Salt Lake City Arts Council, UtahPresents, Davis Arts Council, Thanksgiving Point, Salt Lake Acting Company, Utah Arts Festival, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Participants receive consultations with Art Access to develop and implement their accessibility plans.
Seven Utah museums completed the StEPs-UT program designed to address standards of excellence in small history museums. Working in partnership with Utah Humanities, the Department of Heritage & Arts, and the Utah Division of State History, FY20 was the conclusion of multiple years of planning, curriculum design, teaching, and mentorship.
This pilot run of the program included the Alf Engen Ski Museum, the Cache County DUP Museum, the Ogden Union Station Museums, the Murray City Museum, the Uintah County Heritage Museum, the Fort Douglas Military Museum, and the Hyrum City Museum. Between FY18 and FY20, staff and board representatives from these organizations attended 18 workshops, consulted with individualized mentors, accessed program-specific grant funds, and completed projects designed to improve best practices related to six separate instructional modules.
Chase Home Museum
The exhibition “Traditional Textiles: Ties that Bind” focused on contemporary, traditional fiber arts from various Utah communities and included weaving, quilting, sewing, embroidery, and beadwork. The exhibition showcased 12 artists who represent the Pacific Islander, Native American, Latin American, European, and Southeast Asian communities in Utah. Accompanying the exhibition was a workshop series in which a select number of contemporary fiber artists taught participants the history of their crafts and guided them through the production of a similar craft to take home.
The Folk Arts Program partnered with the Salt Lake City Arts Council to produce the 2019 Mondays in the Park summer concert series, hosted at the Chase Home Museum in Liberty Park. These free concerts provide an opportunity for many of Utah’s finest traditional musicians and dancers to share their art forms with new audiences while fostering collaboration between creators, choreographers, and musicians. Eight concerts were presented in July and August, with attendance averaging 450 people. More than 200 artists participated in this year’s series.
Fellowships and Awards
The Performing Arts Fellowship acknowledges and encourages the careers of established, professional Utah artists demonstrating exceptional creativity in, and dedication to, the performing arts. The program supports professional and committed Utah artists reaching pivotal moments in their artistic careers. This past year was the inaugural year for a Performing Arts Fellowship. Four $5,000 awards were given to Corey Christiansen, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, Gavin Ryan, and Joshua Strauther (Joshy Soul).
For the first time, UA&M partnered with an outside organization to manage the Utah Original Writing Competition. Salt Lake Community College Community Writing Center administered the writing competition, which opened in May and closed at the end of June 2020. The Community Writing Center received 291 entries, with 205 individuals submitting (submitters can enter in more than one category).
This year, the 2020 Visual Arts Fellowship was awarded to four exceptional Utah artists: Andrew Alba, Jane Christensen, Bryan Hutchison, and Molly Morin.
The Division of Arts & Museums reports five performance measures to the Legislature. These measures support the division goal of supporting Utah's creative organizations and encouraging participation in the arts.
Percent of counties served by the Traveling Exhibitions program. GOAL: 69 percent
Number of museums provided in-person consultations annually. GOAL: 30
Number of museum professional who attend workshops offered by the division annually. GOAL: 200
Percentage of school districts served by the Arts Education program annually.
Number of museum professional workshops offered annually. Goal: 12
Programs & Budget
The Utah Division of Arts & Museums administrative team oversees the division’s staff and coordinates the work of the agency with our two advisory boards, the Utah Arts Board and Utah Museums Board. In FY20, our legislative statute was changed to reflect the unity of the arts and museums functions of our agency, removing the former names of Utah Arts Council and Office of Museum Services.
The forerunner of the division was established in 1899, giving Utah the proud distinction of being the first state in the nation to institute an arts agency. The agency’s administrative team provides necessary travel for our two boards and for our grant advisory panels. It also provides operating supplies and maintenance for the Glendinning Office, Rio Gallery, the art storage facility, and the Chase Home Museum. The director and assistant director provide oversight of the division’s strategic planning, communications, web management, social networking, digitization, finances, and human resources. They also provide oversight of the division’s staff and programs.
Programs & Outreach Our programs provide the groundwork to achieve the division’s goals, which are to promote the value and impact of our cultural community; foster sustainable organizations that support community needs; serve as a statewide resource hub; and ensure access, inclusion, diversity, and equity. Museum Services
The division employs 17 full-time and two part-time staff members who provide outreach services through our multidisciplinary programs: Museums; Collections; Arts Education; Community Partnerships; Folk and Traditional Arts; Literary Arts; Performing Arts; Public Art; Traveling Exhibitions; Design Arts; and Visual Arts. These programs offer resources that include technical support, professional development, and grants to Utah’s museums, artists, nonprofit arts organizations, schools, school districts, and rural and urban community arts programs.
The mission of Museum Services is to advance the value of museums in Utah and to enable the broadest access to museums. The Division provides services to museums through grants, technical assistance, public awareness, best practices, collecting and disseminating research, and providing professional development opportunities. It also administers the certified local museum designation program. The museums grants program has a modest base budget available for Utah’s 250 museums. Grants can be used for operating, outreach, educational programs, and capital improvements.
Our programs provide the groundwork to achieve the division’s goals, which are to promote the value and impact of our cultural community; foster sustainable organizations that support community needs; serve as a statewide resource hub; and ensure access, inclusion, diversity, and equity.