Photo by Adam Finkle
Art should be part of everyday life—that’s the mission of the Salt Lake Arts Council.
Former executive director, Nancy Boskoff, spent 25 years building the city-run non-profit’s reputation for supporting local art and hosting big events, like the Living Traditions Festival and the Twilight Concert Series.
When Karen Krieger, who worked for Utah State Parks for 18 years, succeded to the position, she had a strong foundation to build on.
But she didn’t go into the art world blindly. Krieger spent six years on the board for the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts, which maintains and builds the county’s art collection and operates Abravanel Hall and the Capitol and Rose Wagner theaters. While working for State Parks, she developed exhibits involving the state’s historic art.
Two years into the job, Krieger prides herself on the Art Council’s arrangement with city engineers to involve artists in projects like bridges and sidewalks. “Art and creating a sense of place is an economic driver,” she says. “I hope someday, instead of setting money aside to engineer a new bridge, we can set aside money to engineer, design and create a piece of art that serves as a bridge.”
A committee of community members decides how to divvy the Arts Council’s $325,000 in grants to local artists and organizations each year. Likewise, a committee selects the city’s public art. “Little non-profits can make $1,000 to $1,500 grants go a long way,” Krieger says. “I love that everything we do, all the main decisions we make, are guided by committees.” The Arts Council also holds visual arts and literary programs at their headquarters, the Art Barn, which offers both gallery and classroom space.
Every May, the Arts Council hosts the Living Traditions Festival at Library Square. “It’s a fabulous way to get to know who’s living in the city and learn about other cultures,” Krieger says. The festival combines ethnic performing groups, folk artists, crafts and food. One performing group Krieger’s particularly excited to see is A Tribe Called Red, that mixes American Indian powwow vocals with electronic music.
“Our main goal is to make this a really great place to live in an artful way,” Krieger says. “All of our projects and programs revolve around that.”