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!–Salt Lake City Arts Council and Celebrating Story

The Salt Lake City Arts Council has helped more than once…including a combination of spoken storytelling with visual and culinary arts from around the world. Then, in 2020, we had big plans to send professional story artists to the Glendale Library, the Blind Center, and two schools in Salt Lake City. Covid-19 happened…and we had to adjust. At least Story Crossroads Spectacular could provide virtual field trips. We wanted to do more. The grant from Salt Lake City Arts Council was the answer. We are thrilled to still work with youth at the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City with proper distancing. 

Flashing back to 2016, we had the privilege of introducing storytelling to 25 youth with “Around the World: The Tellable, Edible Art Project” with collaboration of the Glendale Community Center and Bad Dog Arts including our presenters: Storytellers Janine Nishiguchi and Jan C. Smith, Visual Artist Kirsten Schiel, and Culinary Artist Elizabeth Montoya. The youth were a little shy as storytelling was not an art usually offered. Rather than focusing on individual stories, the facilitators had it be group storytelling that still expressed the structure of story and how engaging the whole experience can be.

Now we look forward to 20 youth with Story Camp led by Storytellers Cherie Davis and Ginger Parkinson. It will be different. We cannot have the youth gather up in a tight circle like before. Instead? We are using hula hoops as a visual reminder to space out for proper distancing. Masks are the new form of camp t-shirts. The fun will be the same.

All these storytelling ventures are possible because of the Salt Lake City Arts Council. They have their own festival every year.

Normally, the Living Traditions Festival takes place immediately after Story Crossroads. We are mid-May Wednesday with outreaches kick off the Monday before and on through Thursday. Living Traditions takes over the Friday through Sunday afterwards. We both spotlight multicultural art.

Due to the dancing and singing cultural groups, Living Traditions was postponed to 2021.

This is from the Salt Lake City Arts Council website:

Approximately 30,000 people participate in the Living Traditions Festival each year, including students, families, performers, exhibiting artists, volunteers and attendees. More than 70 different cultural groups are represented each year—from Bosnian stuffed pitas and West African samosas to Chinese dragon dancing and Scottish bagpipes. The sights and flavors of the Festival cannot be found at any other cultural event in Utah.

The Living Traditions Festival is dedicated to preserving Utah’s diverse cultural landscape, by supporting the varied artistic traditions and cultural perspectives that create and sustain a strong and vibrant community. We achieve this mission by collaborating with folk and traditional artists and community members in sharing languages, food, art, dance and educational activities. Through the presentation of both historical and contemporary customs, Living Traditions aims to facilitate thoughtful conversations about the unique qualities of various cultures, and the similarities of the human experience, while creating bonds among community members.

Besides this remarkable festival, the Salt Lake City Arts Council offers grants, has the Finch Lane Gallery, the Public Art Program, the Twilight Concert Series, and plenty of outreaches in the community.

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Salt Lake City Arts Council!

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 Story Camp for youth aged 8-17 in mid-August of two kinds: Limited-Sized/Proper-Distanced as well as Virtual.