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Gavin's Underground

Utah Local Festival Of Arts

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-10-08 -

Most of the art festivals we have in town don't just include locals, but expand to incorporate regional or even country-wide aspects of artistic creations in as many forms as they can. But very few put direct attention on just the local arts. Which is why many have been buzzing about the new festival this weekend at the Masonic Temple started up by Generation A... The Utah Local Festival of Arts. But aside from the small amount of promotion, not much has been covered about what will take place this weekend. So we got a chance to chat with Executive Director Amy Allred, Events Director Dave Hanson, and Cultural Heritage Events Manager Jason Allred about the group and the event itself, along with their thoughts on our local scene.

Amy Allred, Dave Hanson (pictured) & Jason Allred


http://www.utlfa.org/

Gavin:
Hey guys, for those who don't know, what is Generation A?

Amy: Generation A is a group comprised of local individuals committed to promoting the vast wealth of performing and visual arts in the community. The goal is to offer opportunities for people throughout Utah to attend cultural gatherings while enjoying arts venues in a social and inexpensive way. We help individuals and families connect with artists and performers through the attendance, production, and support of arts events with widespread appeal. Membership is free!

Gavin: How did all of you either form or join Generation A, and what was it like being a part of it?

Amy: Doug Clark was the founder of the organization, and this year he turned over the reigns to me. Doug brought me on board as Marketing Director. Initially, we focused on attending arts events with widespread appeal. Since the beginning of this year, we have broadened our vision to arts patronage, arts service and volunteering, and arts giving. We focus on seven pillars of arts: cultural heritage, dance, film, literature, music, theatre, and visual arts. I have loved being part of Generation A. It is my bliss. Nothing is better than making new friends while enjoying or volunteering at an arts event.

Dave: I’d been a member of Generation A for a couple of years when Amy approached me back in February about helping to coordinate events for the group. At the time we started planning our usual monthly events to various artistic performances, but we quickly began expanding with fundraisers, the Battle of the Improvs, and now the UTLFA. It’s been a great experience. We’ve gathered such a diversely talented group, that every step in our evolution has been a lot of fun to watch and be a part of.

Jason: My wife Amy was the real impetus behind it all. While I've always enjoyed the arts, it was because of her that we took it to the next level. I was glad to be the Cultural Heritage Events Manager because of my connections with the "Scottish" community and with the Nihon Matsuri because of my Aikido practice. I've had a lot of fun with it.

Gavin: Where did the idea for the UTLFA come from?

Amy: The idea for the UTLFA came from one of our spring monthly advisory council meetings. We were discussing ways to really promote and showcase the variety of Utah talent, and Mino, our Visual Arts Events Manager, proposed the idea of an arts festival. Everyone on the advisory was very enthusiastic about using Generation A as a means to showcase local talent. We started making plans, securing dates and venues, and scraping together funds. I'm still amazed with how this all came together in such a short amount of time.

Dave: We’ve noticed for some time that there is a lot of artistic talent in so many genres that don’t get as much exposure as many think they deserve. We talked at length, right from the beginning, regarding avenues we could use to help put the limelight on some of the truly diverse talent we have in our community. The UTLFA was one of those avenues that we felt could have a quick and strong impact.

Gavin: Considering the amount of festivals and fairs and strolls that Utah already has, what do you believe will set yours apart from some of the others?

Dave: We’re really focusing on local talent. We want people to walk in the door knowing that everything they see came from a member of their own communities. Also, we felt it important to help showcase some of the other local arts groups who are helping to bolster the arts scene in Utah. We want to recognize not only the talent of our artists in all genres, but also those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to support them.

Gavin: What was it like getting everything set up, and have you run into any difficulties along the way?

Dave: No project of this scope comes without a long list of difficulties. With the strengths we have within our team, we’ve been able to gather the expertise to address ours. Our biggest challenge has simply been getting word out, as is expected with the first holding of any annual event. But that word has been constantly growing, and the feedback for what we are trying to accomplish has been overwhelmingly positive.

Gavin: How did you decide on the Masonic Temple as the venue? And how has it been working with them in putting it together?

Jason: I knew that they acted as a public venue, but that it wasn't widely known by the public. Amy and I thought it would have a certain pull to it. The architecture, accompanied by just a little bit of mystery would be a great draw. It's been overall a great experience. Their rates are super, and they're great people to deal with. I do have to say I'm biased though... I am a mason.

Gavin: Who do you have coming in for visual artists to display?

Amy: We have a variety of artists and some arts organizations on tap. Cindy Ferguson, is one of our featured artists, and she does amazing paper cutting artwork. We also have the Hands to Hearts Utah Refugee project showcasing their cultural crafts. Also several of our artists are displaying their work for the first time. Personally, I am very exciting to add some new pieces to my collection, so come early, or I am buy it before you do!

Gavin: On music who have you got signed on for the lineup?

Dave: We’ve got a great diversity of performing groups. We’ve got musical groups such as the Dunmoore Lasses and the Gorgeous Hussies, a good range of solo performers and other performing groups including Kenshin Taiko, a group who performs with Japanese drums.

Gavin: What else can we expect from you guys on the event, and will there be any last minute surprises or are you locked in at this point?

Amy: No last minute surprises... we have a full list of artistic performers from the Dunmore Lasses to the Gorgeous Hussies. We'll also have our kids’ art area and our adults’ art area where you can artistically express "Celebrating. Entertaining. Illuminating." through different artistic mediums. We'll also be offering tours of the Masonic Temple, so you can do your own search for the "lost symbol" or try and meet the resident ghost "Charlie" lurking the halls of the 4th floor, but more importantly enjoy the turn of the century architecture and design that has gone into this building. It is one of the most amazing structures in Salt Lake City, and tour alone is worth your The Gorgeous Hussies will also have their new CD launch in conjunction with this event, and if you haven't heard them, you MUST check them out.

Gavin: Let's talk local for a bit. What are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?

Amy: Utah has an amazing arts scene in so many areas. From Sundance to the Tony-award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival, we have a wealth of arts events for all to appreciate. I am continually impressed with what Utah is producing as a whole. I just want to see more people appreciate it; henceforth, the drive that created Generation A. Our arts community is what keeps me in Utah. I've had several options to move out of state, but the arts scene keeps me here.

Dave: The artistic talent we have here has always amazed me. I think our only shortcoming has been that our strongest exposure to art has been limited to a slightly narrow range of genres. The talent is there across the board, hopefully we can gain more exposure to artists in many more mediums and styles.

Gavin: Same question, this time on theatre and locally made productions.

Amy: I love the variety and talent of our theatre community and its offerings. Several of the Generation A advisory council members has been involved as actors, dancers, singers, directors, and production staff for theatrical events over the years, and we all share the same passion in seeing the arts grow and thrive. There is truly something for everyone in Utah.

Dave: The acting talent in Utah is truly phenomenal. Having worked with a number of productions across the western US, I think the amount of great performers here in Utah is beyond noteworthy. It’s no surprise with the number of Utahns that show up on artistic reality shows, films and stage productions across the country. I do think it would be nice to see some more chances for people to express their talents in other aspects of the theater arts, such as writing, directing and design.

Gavin: Again, same question, this time on the music scene and what's been coming from it.

Amy: I also love our local music scene. From my days of following Ali Ali Oxen Free at local gigs and now playing in several local bands. I truly understand the efforts and rigors it takes to bring a local band to the spotlight. Many venues only want to book out of state talent, and I've found that bands I've been involved in get most of our gigs at out of state venues. Luckily, we have many great venues that feature local musicians and bands.

Gavin: And once more, but this time on local films and filmmakers.

Dave: I’m always excited about what’s going on in the film scene in Utah. There are some great festivals and showings that show off what we have to offer. We recently participated as a Generation A group in the local 48 Hour Film Festival, creating a 7 minute film from scratch in 48 hours. We created a good film, and learned a lot more about the filmmaking process than what we already knew. We were amazed at some of the great works that came from many of the other groups that participated. Again, I think this aspect of our artistic community simply needs more exposure and more venues to be shown in.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make any of these areas more prominent?

Amy: It's all about exposure and marketing. For instance, there are so many great organizations out there that offer so much to their art mediums. From the Utah Poetry Society to Salt Lake . These great organizations have so much to offer, but you definitely need to reach out and find them. It's my hopes that Generation A can help connect people, who may be fearful to try something new artistically make that jump, to these great events and organizations.

Gavin: What's your take on other festivals in town and what they've done to promote Utah art and entertainment?

Amy: I think the other festivals in this town have done a great job in promoting Utah art and entertainment. I regularly attend the Utah Arts Festival every June and enjoy how much it has grown and evolved. Generation A has had several gallery stroll events both in Park City and Salt Lake City. There is so much work that goes into these events, and we are excited to add to this contribution but having an arts festival 100% focused on highlighting and growing our Utah talent.

Dave: Anything that brings attention to the Arts in Utah is a good thing. Our intention is not to take away from any part of any other festival. We’re all regular attendees to many of the other festivals, and will continue to be as such. We feel that the arts scene benefits from all of these events, and that they help build and support each other.

Gavin: When the fest is done, what can we expect from all of you and Generation A the rest of the year?

Amy: We will continue to have our regular monthly events and quarterly family events. We'll also continue with our arts service projects, which is a great way to contribute to arts organizations. We'll also be hosting the festival next year along with the 2nd Annual Battle of the Improvs, which was a huge success.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Amy: Find your passion in arts and support it however you can. There are so many exciting events going on. Check out our website, and JOIN Generation A at our upcoming events.

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