Cap’s Off to You!–Utah Presenters Network and Celebrating Story

The Utah Presenters Network is a “must” gathering at the annual Mountain West Arts Conference. We would meet across several tables and share thoughts and ideas as fellow producer of events. Little did I know until recently that the Utah Presenters Network has been around since 1991. For some time, the Utah Presenters Network has served as a nonprofit that sought to boost collaborations among producers while promoting the arts in the state of Utah and beyond. Then, during this crazy 2020 year, it was announced that the Utah Presenters Network would give a one-time COVID-19 relief grant. We applied and received $950, which was a relief considering some of our non-refundable costs due to transforming from a live to a virtual festival.

Besides Story Crossroads, the following organizations were funded:

  • Davis Arts Council
  • Egyptian Theatre
  • Friends of the Moab Folk Festival
  • Moab Music Festival
  • Mountain Town Music
  • Park City Performing Arts Foundation (Park City Institute)
  • Pilar Pobil Legacy Foundation
  • West Valley Arts (Utah Cultural Celebration Center/Harman Theatre)

For a long time, Wendi Hassan served as Executive Director of the Utah Presenters Network. She is the Executive Director of the Cache Valley Center for the Arts in Logan, Utah and has always been an active volunteer and supporter with the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.

Robin Wilks-Dunn is the new Utah Presenters Network Executive Director. She knows the theater world due to experience with the Salt Lake Acting Company and working with the Playwrights’ Lab. She serves on the National Advisory Committee for Kennedy Center Partners in Education.

The Utah Presenters Network has a closed/private Facebook group, which allows organizations to share a Google Drive and work out block booking of performing artists…including professional story artists.

Some topics of most importance to UPN:

  • Crisis Communications Best Practices
  • Keeping Audiences Engaged during all the Virtual Programming
  • Future Funding for Arts Organizations and Performing Artists
  • Best Practices in Communicating with Sponsors and Donors
  • Effective Advocacy Efforts

In many ways, the UPN is a “quiet” group with much happening through networking, emails, and phone calls. The performing artists get the stage, but producers–and this whole network of producers–takes care of the details to make sure that stage still exists.

Many thanks to what UPN has done for us as well as many presenting organizations throughout Utah.

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Utah Presenters Network!

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

And…Spread the word about our upcoming live House Concerts (with recordings) and the All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series through Story Crossroads.

Cap’s Off to You!–Diamond Rental (Randy Rutherford) and Celebrating Story

Diamond Rental collage.pngDiamond Rental–and specially Randy Rutherford–have been so important to have enough chairs for the 2017 and 2018 Story Crossroads Festivals.  Then came an urgent need to be solved in a few days.  We had microphones and amplifiers reserved though another organization and found out a couple days before the Festival that they would no longer be available.  I scrambled to figure out options and thought of who of my friends had their own microphones.  Luckily, we already were counting on the sound equipment of the ever-generous Annie and Dan Eastmond.  Finally, I called Randy at Diamond Rental.  “We are certainly glad you are providing those 100 extra chairs for free…any chance we can get four microphones and two amplifiers next week?”

Randy had to call around to see if the equipment was available in such a short amount of time.  He called back and said that almost all was covered.  He was short two microphone stands.  Thankfully, Parkside Elementary next to the Murray City Park offered two of their microphone stands and our sound crisis was averted.

I told Randy that I felt bad that the programs were already printed because that jumped up the in-kind donation to another level.  I promised we would place Diamond Rental up for the 2019 Festival.  Luckily, we can also celebrate here through this blog.

Diamond Rental’s motto is “What you need when you need it.”  Here Randy helped us out  exactly when we needed it.

Learn more about Diamond Rental here:

You can also see a video explaining services and equipment here plus I discovered this video clip of a story of a different situation from Paul who had to solve something quick and received help from Diamond Rental.

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to Diamond Rental (Randy Rutherford)!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 4th Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 15, 2019.

Cap’s Off to You!–Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and Celebrating Story

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art collageWe reached out to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art as we were impressed by what they offered each year in the Children’s Yard at the Utah Arts Festival.  No matter what the theme, UMOCA always had activities that intrigued the 5-year-olds to the adults.  When we spoke with Elly Baldwin, the Curator of Public Engagement, she wished that the Art Truck could be offered.  Yet, knowing UMOCA had their own pop-up tents and supplies, Elly thought that a visual arts story activity could still solidify UMOCA’s involvement with the 2018 Story Crossroads Festival.

Elly turned to her staff and volunteers and they came up with a visual art story project involving flipbooks.  They had two different types depending on if they were working with young elementary students or upper grades into the secondary schools.  They were smart with using resources they already had on hand while also preparing die-cuts to be more efficient when working with the students.

As we worked out field trips for the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival for May 23, 2018, we rotated classes from the sit-down storytelling concerts to these hands-on activities including with what UMOCA had to offer.  We told Elly that perhaps there would be 100 students per 1-hour session divided up amongst the other hands-on activities such as Karl Behling’s Mountain Man Petting Zoo or the Self-Led Story Walk.  Then, it turned out to be 200 students per 1-hour session.

Elly was wonderful and said that they would prepare more flipbooks.  We laughed about this “good” problem and knew we would be even better prepared when it came to 2019.

To meet Elly Baldwin as well as the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, see this 3-minute film through KUED’s “Contact with Mary Dickson” show:

Learn more about the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art at their website here:

From this same website it says:

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art is proud to host a variety of special events throughout the year, including the popular Fluid Art, a pairing of arts and ales, as well as its annual gala, the museum’s largest fundraiser of the year. UMOCA also presents a variety of collaborations, including dance performances and film screenings, as well as monthly gallery exhibition openings.

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 23, 2018.

Cap’s Off to You!–Lowe’s and Last-Minute Kindness and Celebrating Story

lowWe cheered when the 2017 Story Crossroads Festival took place at the Murray City Park.  The trees are huge and the gentle sound of the waters brought about the best ambiance for storytelling.  Then, we discovered that only one of the three pavilions for the performances had a nice stage.  Karl Behling had a friend who had one made out of pallets.  That meant we had one more to do.  We wanted our professional story artists as well as the community tellers to enjoy at least a bit of a raised stage.  Some nice neighbors donated two pallets.  Yet, we needed a solid board for the top of these pallets plus the black spray paint.

I headed to the Lowe’s in West Jordan, Utah and found the board…but it so happened that the cutting saw was out of commission for an unknown length of time.  They recommended the Lowe’s in South Jordan.  This West Jordan one said to say that the board could be given for free to support Story Crossroads.

Then the thought occurred to me…I did not have a van or truck to carry the board that was needed for this homemade stage.  This was the day before the Festival.  I posted the need for a van or truck on Facebook.  I got a response from a neighbor (and my aunt, though my neighbor was closer).

Once the board was cut at the South  Jordan Lowe’s, I grabbed the black spray paint and a couple tools to get the job done.  I knew the board would be free.  When I got to the register, the General Manager said, “Oh, all of that will be free, too.”  I thanked them and promised that this gesture of kindness would not be forgotten.  Now you can remember with us.

Learn more about Lowe’s here:

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to Lowe’s!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 23, 2018.

Cap’s Off to You!-Utah Valley University and Celebrating Story

Utah Valley University - Dr. Dale Boam and students - imageFrom the inaugural year of Story Crossroads, we have had the connection with the Utah Valley University.  Dr. Dale H. Boam made that possible.  He is the tenured Associate Professor of Deaf Studies at UVU and attorney advocating for persons who are Deaf.  As he is a nationally certified ASL interpreter, he has graced many stages including the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.  He is always acting on his feet.  Even preparation cannot account for what will come out of a storyteller’s mouth.  He imparts this knowledge with his students in Deaf Studies.  We have been pleased that UVU, through Dr. Boam, has helped with our ASL interpretation.  Then, during our second year, UVU became a funder for Story Crossroads.

We are on the brink of sharing the “Language of Story: Visual Language on Stage” that is part of our Academic Series.  Each year, we will explore languages through the eyes of storytelling with professors who delve into these topics.  As our first one was on visual language, we opted for closed captioning to be ever-present when the video is played.

To have this film, we needed funding and Utah Valley University assisted as well as Utah Humanities and the South Jordan Arts Council.

Dr. Dale Boam, in this film, said, “I want Story Crossroads at my funeral.”  He then explained that he loved the gradual growth of the event and wants to take part until the day he dies.  Those were kind words that we will cherish always…and will aim to fulfill.

The film is scheduled to be launched for the general public in February 2018.  You can subscribe to the Story Crossroads YouTube Channel or check back at the Story Crossroads website where we have videos.  You can also see the “Teaching Story” playlist on our channel by clicking here.

Utah Valley University is praised for this continuous relationship in languages and in funding of Story Crossroads.

Here are the mission and roles shared through Utah Valley University’s website: 



Utah Valley University is a teaching institution which provides opportunity, promotes student success, and meets regional educational needs. UVU builds on a foundation of substantive scholarly and creative work to foster engaged learning. The university prepares professionally competent people of integrity who, as lifelong learners and leaders, serve as stewards of a globally interdependent community.


As a regional state university, Utah Valley University:

Provides quality academic learning opportunities for students through programs at the certificate, associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels. To encourage responsible citizenship, emphasis is placed on engaged teaching and learning as well as scholarly work, research, creative achievements, career and technical education, and community and professional engagement.

Provides access to higher education and offers a broad range of opportunities from developmental education through honors programs. The institution provides services designed to meet the educational and personal needs of students, to foster student success, to prepare students for meaningful lifework, and to provide access through a variety of modalities, including satellite campuses and the use of technology.

Promotes economic and cultural development to contribute to the quality of life of the region and state. The institution fosters economic development and provides a talent-force to meet the needs of a dynamic economy by offering credit and non-credit programs and services for individuals and organizations. UVU provides cultural experiences that enrich the community and offer significant and varied opportunities for continuous learning.

Learn more about the Utah Valley University here:


So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Utah Valley University, Dr. Dale Boam, and all his Deaf Studies Students!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 23, 2018.