Displaying items by tag: Internships

By Duke Ross 

Cinematographer Shana Hagan has been a family friend of ours for many years, making the occasional visit whenever Sundance would bring her to Utah. However, I hadn’t had the chance to talk to her one-on-one about her extensive career in the film industry until relatively recently.

Shana is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, and has worked with notable filmmakers including, but not limited to, Jessica Yu, Rory Kennedy, Michael Apted, and Lauren Greenfield. She has worked on Academy Award winning films such as "Breathing Lessons," and was a camera operator on several seasons of NBC’s "Parks and Recreation." Recently, she's worked as a camera operator and Director of Photography for "Somebody Somewhere" on HBO and "Welcome to Flatch," the latter of which will be premiering on FOX on March 17th. 

While interviewing someone with such an impressive and easily-recognizable body of work, I felt as though I would hear about some kind of eureka moment or one specific opportunity that helped Shana break into the industry proper. However, this was not the case. Rather, Shana took opportunities that may not have been in her specific field of interest, but still provided her chances to network, pick up new skills, and continue to pursue her aspirations as a cinematographer.

"Even if there’s something that you’re tasked to do that you’re scared to do, just do it. Find out what it’s like. See if you like it. See if you don’t like it."

Shana received her undergraduate degree in film from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California and credits the structure of the program for many of the skills that she took into the working world. Students were responsible for making their own projects, and as a result, everyone had to work on everyone else’s films at varying capacities and in a myriad of different roles. Shana had the opportunity to work on a diverse array of projects, varying in genre, scope, and technical format, which she claims was a very educational experience. 

However, even as she was performing so many different roles for so many films, her love of cinematography persisted. “I started shooting a lot of people’s films because I loved shooting.” She even took on an extra level of work, spearheading several upper-division student films simply out of love for her craft. “I chose to direct and shoot a lot of those (student films), which was really challenging, but I really wanted to do it.” This level of passion and work ethic continued out of college, where in addition to working a full-time job, Shana would shoot films for her younger classmates on weekends in order to practice her camera work.

Despite her passion and discipline in the realm of cinematography, Shana was not able to get a job working with a camera right out of school. “I was gung-ho to get a shooting job,” Shana said. As she peddled her reel from place to place, the general consensus was that people were not looking to hire a cinematographer fresh out of film school without any real industry experience. As disappointed as Shana was, her first real paying job out of college would be exponentially more fruitful than she would have initially predicted.

While she was still in school, Shana interned as a production assistant with ZM Productions, a studio that primarily did behind-the-scenes content for filmmakers such as Steven Speilberg. Although her internship had her doing pretty minor tasks such as delivering beta tapes, her full-time job would become much more involved. Shana began her career as an assistant editor on the film, "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse," a documentary on the turbulent production behind Francis Ford Coppola’s "Apocalypse Now." Initially, Shana was not jazzed about the position. “At the time, I was super sad that it wasn’t the perfect job. But in hindsight, it was the perfect job,” she said, “That early work in post-production still informs my work as a cinematographer.” Shana’s work on "Hearts of Darkness" allowed her to re-evaluate her work in cinematography and gave her valuable insight into an integral part of the filmmaking process.

After premiering at the Cannes film festival, the filmmakers behind "Hearts of Darkness" wanted to record some additional interviews, and decided to let Shana step up to the plate as Director of Photography. She had the opportunity to work on interviews with Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Sheen, and the Playboy Bunnies featured in "Apocalypse Now." Although not all of the interviews made it into the final cut, Shana found the experience of having her first real camera credit to be extremely valuable and rewarding.

Upon sharing the experience of her first job with me, Shana followed the story up with some advice that I personally feel applies across the disciplines. “On that year and a half that I was on 'Hearts of Darkness,' I learned so much about so many things. The takeaway from that film was that even if you take a job that isn’t perfect, you’re still going to learn something from it. You’re still going to meet somebody. You’re still going to learn a new skill. You might get a chance that you didn’t think you had, like shooting one of these interviews,” she told me, “Even if there’s something that you’re tasked to do that you’re scared to do, just do it. Find out what it’s like. See if you like it. See if you don’t like it.”

In short, there is no perfect opportunity. The perfect opportunity is the one that’s right in front of you. Try new things. You might love it. You might hate it. If you hate it, you still might learn something from it. Especially given the uncertain state of the world, it’s reassuring to know that there is no one clear path to success, and that you can find fulfillment in what you do in places that you may not have initially suspected.

ArtsForce Takeaways:

  • Every job that you take provides a valuable learning experience, even if it’s not the position you end up pursuing in the long-term.

  • When your passion and your work don’t necessarily coincide, try and find other ways to scratch that creative itch.

  • The connections that you make in school and the early stages of your career have the potential to provide life-changing opportunities.

Author Duke Ross is an ArtsForce Emerging Leaders Intern. He is a fourth-year student majoring in Film and Media Arts, and minoring in Digital Photography.

Published in Finer Points Blog
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By Cayden Turnbow 

A few weeks ago, ArtsForce led a Career Trek offering a behind-the-scenes look at the one and only Impatient Cow Productions! The largest career trek to date went as follows; an overview of what Inpatient Cow Productions is and what they do, a deep dive into the post production workflow for a typical client, a tour of the production spaces available there, and then a debrief at Publik Coffee.

Getting to see what the day-to-day actually looks like in a production house gives students an idea of what to expect post graduation.

The goal of this trek was to instill in students the importance of internships especially within in the arts and the give them an up close look at the day to day of a production studio. “[Internships] in film can teach you a lot of important things that aren't always taught in the classroom,” said Jackie Bohn, one of the students who attended the trek. While going to school can provide you with opportunities to develop your craft and meet like minded people, internships like the ones provided at ICP give students real world experience that cannot be replicated in a classroom.

Getting to see what the day to day actually looks like in a production house gives students an idea of what to expect post graduation. One of Kyle Pflieger’s takeaways from the trek had to do with “the breadth of work they engage in, and the ‘jack-of-all-trades' nature most of the employees have.” This seemed like a typical expectation of employees at a production house like ICP.

“This was my first time being in a film production studio and I liked how cozy and fun the atmosphere was,” said Sandy Detweiler. Not all of the students who attended this trek were film majors, a variety of arts students were able to discover the multitude of possibilities that come with a career in film.

Overall, ICP was a memorable experience to say the least, if there is one thing you should take away from our visit it should be “work hard and take advantage of internships!” noted Lana Ballenot.

We hope you can join ArtsForce for our career treks, and the 9th Annual Networking Event in the spring.
Stay tuned for more information about those events!

Published in Finer Points Blog

For artists across disciplines, a year confronting COVID-19 illuminated a pressing need to develop and maintain new skills. Suddenly remote interactions, changing performance & exhibition schedules, virtual formats, and increased need for broad coordination were the norm. Both students, and arts alumni alike, found themselves trying to shape-shift to maintain creative momentum.

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) regularly surveys arts alumni nationwide to learn how graduates are using their education, and what skills prove most essential in the workforce. Since 2008, SNAAP has collected and analyzed data from over 200,000 arts alums.

A recent SNAAP report looked specifically at how COVID-19 impacted the needed skills of arts graduates. Comparing past surveys with interviews specific to the pandemic, researchers found that arts alumni continued to rely on financial and business management, entrepreneurial, and networking skills, a trend well-established in past SNAAP research.

But new needs also became apparent: technological skills and collaboration.

The ArtsForce program at the University of Utah, consistently ahead of the game in anticipating the professional needs of students, was already serving these needs before the data was released.

The SNAAP DataBrief read: “…two broad categories of skill emerged as increasingly relevant compared to pre-pandemic artistic work: technological skills and skills related to interpersonal relationships and working collaboratively…Technological skills were already a requisite for arts alumni. However, this was magnified during the pandemic, with technology mediating interpersonal interactions, work, and making or performing art to a degree not previously experienced.”

It went on to say, “Arts graduates reported that interpersonal relationships and working collaboratively were in high demand during the pandemic.” SNAAP further concluded that “those who developed stronger skills in this area were able to better adjust to the lack of informal, in-person moments for interaction, idea generation, and collaboration that happen more naturally when people are in the same physical space.”

Since its inception in 2013, ArtsForce interns discover and learn to articulate the value of their degree, as well as help connect fellow students to helpful campus resources. Through the program, students are able to not only connect with a broader professional network, but form meaningful connections with their teammates. In any given year, it is worthwhile work that bolsters coursework inside the classroom.

But in a COVID year where isolation was at an all-time high, the program proved invaluable. 

ArtsForce intern Cassandra Webb said, "I'm very glad that I got accepted into the ArtsForce internship during 2020. It gave me a reason to reach out to people and continue learning when the pandemic was making that nearly impossible otherwise.” 


Here are the ways ArtsForce pivoted last year, making use of available technology and putting collaboration at the center of their work:

  • Networking on Instagram Live
    In place of an in-person annual networking event, ArtsForce took the innovative route of interviewing CFA alumni and current students on Instagram Live. Over the course of several days, student followers learned about artists from their community, and expanded their networks using social media. The event also gave ArtsForce interns live interviewing experience, as well as experience producing virtual events specifically for social platforms.
  • Informational Interviewing through videoAFzoomArtsForce Interns (clockwise): Kaitlin Kerr-Osman, Bennett Blake, Cayden Turnbow, Katie McLaughlin, Pablo Cruz-Ayala, Kira Sincock
    Where students might often ask professionals for in-person meetups to conduct informational interviews in order learn more about various potential career paths, COVID-19 made these opportunities tricky. ArtsForce asked professionals to meet over Zoom instead, and kept the momentum going on virtual interviews that proved valuable for students and connected them to the community at large.
  • Bringing alumni into the picture
    Throughout the year, ArtsForce collaborated and connected with CFA alumni. Working with the Fine Arts Ambassadors, ArtsForce helped host a series of professional development panels that were open to all students from across disciplines. Interns also attended quarterly meetings of the young board, to promote their events, seek guidance, and develop relationships with alums.
  • Making the most of Zoom
    Though most of ArtsForce’s work had to take place virtually, the group worked to make the most of the Zoom platform to develop authentic relationships with one another. They began each meeting with an ice breaker question before jumping into business, and used breakout rooms to work in smaller groups.

"ArtsForce has allowed me to explore my interests and gain experience in the things I am interested in. I have learned more about social media and event planning and organizing. I’ve also learned more about networking and reaching out to professionals which will help me already have connections upon graduation and meet more people in my field."
-Kaitlin Kerr-Osman

"Being a part of ArtsForce during COVID was a valuable experience because it taught me the importance of being able to pivot. Everybody on the team got the opportunity to make valuable contributions and it felt like a community." 
Bennett Blake

"My internship gave me a sense of community in multiple ways. With my team, I gained friendships and leaned on others during “zoom fatigue."  With my assignments and programming, I connected with my college, both within and outside of my area of study. I served my learning community while strengthening my professional one. Meeting arts professionals with an array of backgrounds will change the trajectory of my college and post-college career."
- Katie McLaughlin

"This past year I have had the chance to plan projects and events from start to finish. I think that the experience I have had during the video projects will be especially useful for the work that I would like to go into after I graduate. I also know how to approach professionals for help, which is something that I felt discouraged from in my previous work. I think what will be most helpful is the knowledge of the variety of people needed in the arts world. Going into this internship, I assumed that I needed to show artistic skill and a mastery of my craft if I wanted to have any chance of working in the arts, but after meeting people who are event and gallery coordinators, I am confident that I will have a hand in making art available to others in one way or another during my career."
- Cassandra Webb

"One of the biggest skills I gained from ArtsForce that I know will help me the most after I leave the CFA is the importance of team building and the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively. In the arts, it’s so important to recognize the creativity of those you’re working with and be able to navigate difficult situations or controversial ideas with an open mind. Along with that, it’s important to take risks and try different things. ArtsForce helped me open my creative mind and build on the skills that are necessary as I start a career after college. Because of ArtsForce, I have the skills to plan and execute events, work effectively with a team, collaborate with artists, grow my network, market my art, and communicate my ideas successfully."
- Merinda Christensen

"ArtsForce has served as an incredibly valuable part of my college experience and has prepared me for my professional career in the arts.  One of the most important skills was learning how to develop and continue meaningful relationships with professionals, and garner a passion for learning about their career through informational interviews.  I've gained skills that are helpful for working on a team, such as organization, communication, and time management.  Ultimately, a lot of the skills I've gotten from ArtsForce are transferable to a variety of different fields and positions, which helps me feel more prepared for wherever my future takes me." 
-Kira Sincock

For more on ArtsForce and to get connected to professional development resources in the College of Fine Arts, visit artsforceutah.com. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom help to prepare College of Fine Arts students for the professional world. The CFA Fund provides funding for these types of transformative experiences for students in Art & Art History, Dance, Film & Media Arts, Music, and Theatre: from internships within the college and with local organizations, to competitions, festivals, masterclasses, and more. It is often in these settings that students further refine professional skill sets outside their coursework and build their networks. 

Demonstrating a strong commitment to the success of emerging arts professionals, Merit Medical Systems, Inc. is matching gifts to the CFA Fund up to $7,500 this month. This generous gift opens doors for students, and encourages others in the community to fortify experiential learning in the College of Fine Arts with double the impact. 

One student from the School of Dance can already speak to the value of her Create Success internship in the CFA. 

Modern dance major Lia Wong not only manages a full course load plus rigorous rehearsals, she has also worked alongside the Academic Advising team for the past two years helping students in New Student and Transfer Orientations.

“I have been able to better my interpersonal, presentational, communication, and teamwork skills. As interns, we are involved in the creation of ideas on how to promote student success which forced me to be confident in my own thoughts, allowed me to learn how to jump in head first into a project with not much guidance, take risks, and be okay with trial and error,” she said. “I feel like I was able to get a better sense of my own degree, the possibilities I have within that degree, and how I can better articulate the value of my degree and the arts to others.” 

"From the time of its founding in 1987, Merit Medical Systems, Inc. has worked to build and strengthen the local community by supporting andDarla Gill FAAB 2019 resized donating to the arts and other cultural programs in our State. We recognize that a city with a vibrant artistic and cultural scene encourages a society of healthier, happier, more creative, and more diverse residents, and tends to attract a high level of talent to the region. We encourage our employees and others in the community to take advantage of and support the rich culture of art and education in Utah, and we appreciate being associated with the University of Utah’s College of Fine Arts."
- Darla Gill
Co-Founder, Merit Medical Systems, Inc.
College of Fine Arts Advisory Board Member

JOIN US IN SUPPORTING THE CFA FUND TODAY

Published in Finer Points Blog

by Rebecca Ortmann 

Ever since college first became a subject of consideration in my sixth-grade classroom, I knew that above all else, I needed to get out of Idaho.

No matter how much I tried to convince myself that maybe staying in my home state wouldn’t be so bad, I couldn’t help but feel like my potential lied somewhere beyond state lines. For the next several years of my K-12 education, I had managed to figure out that I wanted to study film, but what I truly wanted to get out of my college experience was still a blur.

It wasn’t until I went to a small art gallery in Salt Lake City that I began to seriously consider going to the University of Utah. My short experience in the gallery gave me an incredible amount of insight into the bustling local creative scene, and I felt like I belonged.

Since being accepted and enrolling at the U, my eagerness to hit the ground running this coming August has only grown. With the bounty of opportunity and new experiences that lie ahead, incoming first year students like me have so much to look forward to.

Here are my top five things that I’m eager to experience on campus this fall:


1. Events

Growing up in a mid-size farming town in southern Idaho, there wasn’t much in terms of artistically-oriented events. Which is why I am ecstatic to attend many of the on campus showcases of creativity (COVID permitting). Whether it's the Arts Bash at the beginning of fall semester, or the F&MAD Spring showcase at the end of the year, I look forward to experiencing it all in my first year at the U of U College of Fine Arts. Additionally, with Arts Pass, experiencing the arts has never been more accessible. By using only our UCard, all students can attend various performances, concerts, and even guest lectures year-round for free, or for greatly discounted prices. 


2. Opportunity

With Utah being one of the fastest growing states nationwide, new internship and career enrichment opportunities are also on the rise in Salt Lake City. Both on and off-campus, there are ways to start to gain work experience either as part of the many ambassador and mentorship programs offered at the U, or with new startups in the Salt Lake area. The wide variety of resources provided to students makes it easy to get connected, which I find very reassuring as a new student.


3. Support

When I was searching for more information about the U before applying last February, I was immediately impressed by its wide assortment of different resource centers, and helpful faculty members. Being able to have access to people that could not only help me with my academics, but also my personal life helped me know that despite the large size of campus and student population, I would still be able to receive help if I needed it. The Create Success resources make it easy to contact advisors for information on classes, and helps to get a better picture of what the undergraduate experience looks like. This kind of support allowed me to feel comfortable trusting the U for the next four years of my studies.


4. Location

University of Utah’s proximity to both the metropolitan area of Salt Lake City as well as numerous national forests and state parks makes it a great place to experience both the urban and more rural sides of the beehive state. You can hop on the bus and enjoy dinner in the city one night, and go stargazing in the Wasatch National Forest the next. University of Utah’s Outdoor Adventure outlet also makes the outdoors more accessible with on campus gear rental. You can also easily partake in many of the events Salt Lake City has to offer with your student ID. Being able to have access to both outdoor and city recreation means that if anything, I will not be bored at the U.

 

5. Academics

What ultimately made me choose the U over other film programs that some may consider to be more well-recognized, was its selection of different courses that I wouldn’t have been able to take if I were to go to a traditional film school. With over two hundred majors, minors, and certificates to offer, I will be able to study what I love without feeling siloed into one field. Additionally, University of Utah’s partnership with different universities across the globe makes it possible for me to make progress in my studies while also immersing myself in another culture through the learning abroad program. As I register for my fall courses, I am also looking forward to what opportunities may lie outside of U.S. borders for me in the future.

With August and the first day of classes on the horizon and creeping closer with every day, I couldn’t feel more excited for the beginning of fall semester and all that the University of Utah College of Fine Arts has to offer.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Bennett Blake

Hello College of Fine Arts! A couple weeks ago I had the chance to speak with David Dee about how young people can set themselves up for successful and sustainable career in the arts. David owns David Dee Fine Arts, a local gallery specializing in American Western painting, and he was previously the Director of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA).

One insight from my conversation with David was the importance of specialization, especially in art. It is natural to be curious about all aspects of your field, but David explained, “One is well served to focus on an area that you feel passion about and develop expertise.”

David’s specialization in Japanese Woodblock prints he described as “incredibly meaningful” and was also his entrance to the UMFA as an Assistant Curator of Japanese Art.

The idea of setting yourself up for success long-term was a highlight of our conversation. Having lofty career goals is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is not the only way to build a fulfilling career. Becoming the Director of the UMFA and owning a gallery was not what David had in mind when he started as an Assistant Curator, it was a role he grew into.

He told me that “most people’s leadership abilities emerge during the course of doing their work.”

Put this into practice in your work life by cultivating your passion and becoming comfortable with being a leader in an area you might be an expert in. The skills that you develop you will then be able to take to future opportunities.

COIVD-19 has been devastating for the arts, so one topic I made sure to touch on was how I could do my part to help my local art community. A lot of college students like me might not have a lot of disposable-income or the space to start an art collection. This shouldn’t be a barrier for people like us to become more involved. Museums and other non-profit arts organizations depend heavily on foot-traffic for funding so by just showing up you are doing your part!

In addition to showing up, David pointed out to me that his and many other local galleries offer works on paper or prints that are much more accessible to a student. Being around art is an enriching experience whether you are building your career around it, collecting it, or just enjoying it.

To summarize this article here are some core takeaways from my conversation with David:

  • Specialize on a specific niche of your field that you are really passionate about
  • Search for leadership opportunities and realize that by gaining experience you will naturally be more prepared for future opportunities
  • One of the best and easiest ways to support your local art community is by showing up

Join us for the second of two Arts Watch events on March 26 from 2-3P on @uofufinearts’s Instagram! RSVP here.

Published in Finer Points Blog

This is a series dedicated to highlighting the insights our students gained during their internships.

Name:
Sarah Hogg, Department of Art & Art History Graphic Design Emphasis
Internship: I interned with the Salt Lake City Sustainability Department, or SLCGreen, the summer of 2019.

What responsibilities did you have as an intern?

I wrote and designed informational assets for the department, and wrote posts for SLCGreen’s blog about current events in sustainability in the community. I also tabled at local events such as the farmer’s market, Partners in the Park, and Craft Lake City. At those events I engaged with members of the community on various local issues in sustainability.

What new skills/knowledge did you gain from your internship?

I worked on design projects and was able to have valuable back and forth conversations like I would with a client. Of course, I learned a ton about sustainability and also about local government which was a world I was unfamiliar with but was really interesting to learn about and experience.

What connections did you make and how do you think those connections may help you in your career?

I was able to meet many different members of the community, from other interns/students studying everything from creative writing to public health, to employees in local government, to many involved in sustainability. I hope to incorporate sustainability into my work as a designer in the future, and these are connections I would have never made in the design program alone.

What advice would you give other students who are interested in a similar internship?

Don’t be afraid to apply and put yourself out there, and just express your passion. It’s easy to feel underqualified or scary to expose yourself and your work, but most people realize you’re just starting out. You’re there to learn and gain experience. Also, showing enthusiasm goes a long way. Just being able to articulate specifically what you’re interested in and why will have a huge impact on people.

How did your internship compliment your arts education?

A big part of design is visual communication, knowing how to best convey a message through imagery and visuals. During my internship not only was I able to practice my design skills, but I also created written content and spoke face to face with members of the community about sustainability. All of these different methods of communication combined gave me a really well-rounded experience in connecting with people.

Are there other thing you would like to tell us?

I only became interested in sustainability after working on a design project for class about plastic recycling. This piqued my interest enough to apply for this internship, which turned out to be a wonderful experience. I would definitely encourage students to explore any other passions or interests they might have. College is uniquely suited for learning and exploring different subjects. Even if your interests don’t directly relate to what you’re studying, I think it’s worthwhile to take the time to explore and engage with other interests you have or might stumble upon. As artists we often have the creative abilities and opportunities to combine different themes or topics into our work in unexpected ways.

Published in Finer Points Blog

This is a series dedicated to highlighting the insights our students gained during their internships.

Name: Emina Tatarevic, Department of Art & Art History 
Internship: 
 Emerging Leaders Ambassador for the CFA in 2017-2018

What responsibilities did you have as an intern? What new skills/knowledge did you gain from your internship?

I had a few different responsibilities in this role. I wrote for the CFA's The Finer Points blog and I worked various CFA and university-wide events. The biggest part of my internship was working directly with my coordinator, Jenn McLaurin, to update the college’s major sheets. For my internship project, I pitched a system of linked Microsoft Excel documents that would streamline editing, locating, and seamlessly utilizing these forms to aid students in navigating their education. This modernization project challenged me in unexpected ways as it called for technical skills and area-specific knowledge I didn’t possess. It was a great opportunity to be creative with a new medium while learning practical skills.

What connections did you make and how do you think those connections may help you in your career?

In writing for The Finer Points blog, I met and interviewed students outside of my college. This challenged me to be unafraid and outgoing. Additionally, I made important connections with faculty and staff throughout the CFA, some of which I ended up asking to be my recommenders on grad school applications. This internship helped me foster relationships with people I may not have otherwise even known and I feel like the experience of doing it before will help me to do it again and again in grad school and in my career.

What advice would you give other students who are interested in a similar internship?

If you’re interested, do it! You don’t know how much you can learn until you have the experience. College is more than your classes and this is a way for you to have experiences you can draw from when pursuing jobs beyond college or in applying to graduate programs.

How did your internship compliment your arts education?

I was an Art History major so this internship gave me an opportunity to learn skills I wasn’t exposed to in my major classes.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Kaitlin Kerr-Osman

Hi CFA students!

As an ArtsForce intern this year, I have been very interested in learning more about arts administration. This led me to approach Derek Dyer who is a self-taught artist and the Founder and Executive Director of Utah Arts Alliance. Utah Arts Alliance is an organization founded on the idea of fostering all art forms in order to create an empowered community. They often have free events, such as the Urban Arts Festival and have galleries that local artists can sell their work out of.

Derek told me that the idea for Utah Arts Alliance began while he was still attending school. He attended Salt Lake Community College for a degree in multimedia and design, but was also interested in exploring urban art forms. He recognized that many of the artists he knew had no spaces to show their work because there was less support for newer, contemporary art forms. Over time, he began renting out spaces or throwing house parties as a way to allow all of these artists to showcase their work through whatever medium they wanted. There would be dance exhibitions, live music, and artwork hanging on the walls so that there was a space for everybody to share their art. While it started as a way to support himself and his friends, this soon became Utah Arts Alliance.

Utah Arts Alliance really started when arts organizations, such as the Utah Arts Council and the Downtown Alliance, suggested that Derek start a nonprofit. But there was not much support for how to start a nonprofit at the time. He did most of the work of researching how to become a nonprofit on his own so that in the future artists would have more support than he saw.

Since Derek was young, he had recognized that there were opportunities for rapid growth in non-traditional art fields. This growth is even more obvious with the current state of the world. With COVID, new and different ways of showcasing art have given the arts an opportunity to thrive. Many people have taken to performing in front of their houses, similar to what Derek and his friends were doing at the beginning of his journey. Even Urban Arts Festival has seen some changes with COVID. Typically, the festival takes place in one location for a weekend, but, this year, they broke it up into a full month of elements to ensure that they could still hold an in-person event while allowing everyone to be safe.

Derek is also a self-taught businessman. He has attended some business seminars and taken advantage of things when they come his way, but he still sees himself first as an artist. He says “We’re not he businesspeople trying to run art, we’re artists trying to run a business.” He advocates for taking advantage of any opportunities that present themselves as a way of furthering your goals.

Over time, he began renting out spaces or throwing house parties as a way to allow all of these artists to showcase their work through whatever medium they wanted. There would be dance exhibitions, live music, and artwork hanging on the walls so that there was a space for everybody to share their art. While it started as a way to support himself and his friends, this soon became Utah Arts Alliance.

 As the Executive Director of Utah Arts Alliance, Derek also wants to make sure that their festivals are accessible to everyone. For the festivals, there is no charge because they want to ensure the elimination of any financial barriers people might have. He explained that this is very important to the organization because being able to experience art can change people’s lives and set them off on new. However, he also recognizes the necessity of making money in order to continue the business, so the organization also has "Dreamscapes," which is a paid immersive art experience and own galleries through which artists can sell their works.

Talking to Derek opened up a whole new side of the arts world that I hadn’t really explored yet. As a performing artist, I don’t have much experience with visual arts, so it was really interesting to hear Derek talk about all the cool things that Utah Arts Alliance is doing for the visual arts. This conversation also gave me hope in the midst of everything that is happening in the world. Lately, I have been very worried about my professional career and the world as a whole, but Derek’s insight helped me to reignite my passion for the arts world and get excited for all the innovative ways artists are going to create work now.

Artsforce Takeaways:

  • Advocating for yourself can lead to great things

  • Art is the one thing where nothing is impossible

  • Creative solutions allow the arts to thrive

*Author Kaitlin Kerr-Osman is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce and a modern dance major. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Merinda Christensen 

Hello College of Fine Arts students!

I had the opportunity to sit down with Lucas Goodrich, the Cultural Core Program Director and Cassandra Yerkes, the Operations Manager for The BLOCKS and talk about their experience working with the vibrant art community in Salt Lake City. I wanted to learn more about the skills they use as professional artists in a field that focuses more on the business side of the arts.

Lucas completed his doctorate at the University of Utah in Vocal Performance and Stage Direction. As an artist himself, I was curious to learn more about his role with The BLOCKS and how his college degree translated into what he does now.

Lucas’s role as the Cultural Core Program Director is overseeing the fiscal management with all things downtown to understand the landscape of restaurants, businesses, and the nighttime economy. He deals with top art organizations all the way down to 1-2-man operations. He told me, “The culture core isn’t meant to make money, it’s meant to apply the funds and resources to all of the arts and culture groups in a way that will bring people to Salt Lake City, drive audiences, and put eyes on artists and their brand.” I asked him what he enjoys most about working with so many artists and art organizations and he explained that he loves seeing the impact the arts has on people.

“Artists are some of the most resilient people we know, and they will continue to create” – Lucas Goodrich

Cassandra graduated from Westminster in Arts Administration and works hard to advocate, support, and create art in downtown Salt Lake City as the Operations Manager. I asked Cassandra how the community has impacted her. She said because the arts are so integrated into our everyday lives, it is important that people come downtown looking to find that sense of discovery. Those that come are immersed in the art around them. She loves seeing the arts come alive and thrive in unique spaces.

Finally, I asked both Lucas and Cassandra advice they would give to students looking to work in the arts. Cassandra explained that it is important to be eager and proactive about things, be a do-er, and do not be afraid to fail! Never say no to an opportunity that will progress your skills.

“Find an opportunity that doesn’t seem like it’s going to require your artistic skills and put your creativity into it” – Cassandra Yerkes

Lucas explained that having the ability to improvise is so important. You cannot think backwards, you’ve got to continue to move forward. You learn discipline as an artist and how to collaborate. And you learn how to say "thank you." The power of "thank you" and the power of taking and accepting feedback speaks volumes. 


ArtsForce takeaways:

- Never say no to any opportunity that will progress your skills!

- There are so many opportunities to express your creativity – don’t limit yourself.

- Explore your community, meet new people, and learn what is going on around you. Doing that, you will find new and exciting opportunities to advance your art and skill. 


It was so great to talk to both Lucas and Cassandra about their experiences and insights. Click here to learn more about The BLOCKS and what they are doing every day to keep the arts alive and growing in Salt Lake City and follow their Instagram @theblocksslc!

*Author Merinda Christensen is an Instrumental Performance major in the School of Music, with an emphasis in harp. She is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce. 

Published in Finer Points Blog
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