Arts get a boost from local council |

Arts get a boost from local council

In a society where the arts have suffered a diminished role with government and education, some organizations are fighting to reclaim artistic influence.

Established in 1899, The Utah Department of Community and Culture (UDCC) is the nation’s oldest organization of its kind and is carrying on a tradition of promoting arts in all its facets. Representatives of the group, along with members of the Park City Summit County Arts Council (PCSC), are holding a town meeting Tuesday, May 23, at 7 p.m. at the Miners Hospital, to discuss arts and cultural opportunities in Park City.

UDCC director Margaret Hunt will initiate the meeting with a PowerPoint presentation outlining the group’s goals then she will launch an open forum with the audience. During the day, 12 UDCC members will conduct random one-on-one interviews throughout town before the meeting. They will then report back to the community.

Park City will be the ninth city since June to participate in the UDCC’s "listening tours" to help develop a five-year strategic plan. So far, the results have been revealing.

"The things we have found is that life-long learning in the arts are important to people," said Lynnettte Hiskey, assistant director. "The need for a place to perform or meet in the community is an issue that has come to the top every time."

The council’s goal, she said, is to pinpoint what is important to each community and help network people and organizations together to bring about results.

"That will drive us to better serve our constituents," Hiskey said. "Where do we need to focus our goals and what direction do we need to go? The public’s going to drive us in that direction."

Local art council director Kathy Hunter sees the potential of more meetings such as this one.

"Anytime you get people together and build bridges between local, county and state that all have common goals, the more effective you are," Hunter said.

To improve the arts in smaller communities, the green hue of cash is needed to build facilities and programs. Money will always be the issue and the argument to sustain flourishing programs.

The UDCC is limited on what they can do monetarily, but it hopes to influence residents and other people in a position to make a difference. The individual cities will be counted on to raise the capital for facilities and other projects.

"We know that, through these listening tours, cities need facilities. The exciting thing is that the people in the communities are taking action," Hiskey said.

The services they provide, she said, go beyond merely promoting facilities. According to its website, the Council provides professional help to individual artists, arts organizations, schools and local government entities. It also provides direct matching grants to more than 200 nonprofit organizations across the state as well as other types of financial assistance to individual artists, artist groups and organizations.

After observing the success of the town meetings, the UDCC decided to continue the gatherings even after the development of the five-year plan.

"We are going to continue this," Hiskey said. "It’s been so beneficial and helpful. We’ll have to scale it back but visit as many towns as we can. We have to develop the plan for the next five years. The plan may shift as needs within the community shift."

Utah Arts Council will hold a town meeting in Park City at 7 p.m. at the Miners Hospital to discuss arts and cultural opportunities in the Park City area. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend. For more information about the meeting, contact Lynnette Hiskey at (801) 236-7552.

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