Exploring Art Hubs on Campus


Sophie Felici

The Alvin Gittins Gallery at the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on March 28, 2023. (Photo by Sophie Felici | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Josi Hinds, News Editor


The arts have a strong presence on the University of Utah campus, but if you’re looking for where arts are centered, the four affiliate programs of the College of Fine Arts provide world-class experiences for little to no cost to students. The Pioneer Theatre Company, Tanner Dance, Utah Museum of Fine Arts and UtahPresents are all incredible places for students to appreciate the arts.

Pioneer Theatre Company

Each season at the Pioneer Theatre Company runs from fall to spring and consists of seven shows, typically four musicals and three plays. Everything for the show is constructed on-site. In the 2022-23 season, PTC hosted the worldwide premiere of “Shucked,” a musical comedy that’s now being shown on Broadway.

“[It’s] very much a priority for us to be able to find not only a show that is wonderfully engaging and complex and has a lot to offer, but also something that hasn’t been shown here before,” said Eric Jackson, the associate artistic and outreach director at PTC.

“We literally are bringing Broadway to the U,” said Joshua Black, the director of marketing and communications at PTC. “Most of our casts do have Broadway credits.”

PTC also prides itself on the variety of shows it brings to Utah. The 2023-24 season is no different.

“I’m excited for the energy that this next season is going to bring, and I think this could align really well with the student body that’s right here on campus already,” said Jackson. 

Attending the shows produced by PTC isn’t the only way students can get involved with the organization. They also offer internships where students can perform, join the crew putting together shows and work with the administrative team. 

Tanner Dance

Tanner Dance serves over 40,000 children and adults in the state of Utah through a multitude of programs. 

“There are some universities that offer some community classes, some outreach classes, but a full-blown program like this just doesn’t really exist anywhere else,” said artistic director of Tanner Dance Mary Ann Lee.

Tanner Dance offers several different classes for adults and children, including ballet, hip-hop and contemporary classes, as well as classes for those with adaptive needs and adults with disabilities.

“We have a harness system here for our dancers that are in wheelchairs or can’t use their legs,” Lee said. Tanner Dance also holds performances almost every weekend.

Students can get involved with Tanner Dance in several ways. In addition to participating in research studies or capstone projects with the organization, Tanner Dance also offers internships and volunteer opportunities.

“There’s lots of opportunity here to grow and to have this sort of unique college experience,” said Lee.

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts offers plenty to look at, with a collection of over 20,000 objects. Permanent exhibitions display art from around the world, and temporary exhibitions have displayed art from quilts to modern photography. UMFA also offers workshops, presentations and classes.

“The UMFA is an amazing place just to disconnect from your studies to reconnect with self-discovery or reflection,” said Derrek Wall, manager of adult and university programs at UMFA. “Come in and just spend 20 minutes looking at one thing, you don’t have to look at [everything].”

The ACME lab at UMFA provides another space for education and exploration of art. The experimental space was created as a way to allow observers to actively participate in the art on display. 

“I firmly believe that museums are reflections of the communities and cultures in which they are situated,” Wall said. “What is on those walls and in that building should reflect that community, and I think it’s a very quick way to learn about a new space you inhabit.”

“We’re very cognizant of … decolonizing the museum,” Wall added. “We are assessing our collections and how they arrived here, and then how it’s interpreted, maybe how we can do differently, how it really reflects the cultures on view.”


Inside the 100-year-old theater at Kingsbury Hall, students can watch a variety of performances put on by UtahPresents. UtahPresents is a multidisciplinary presenter, hosting many different kinds of performances every year. For example, UtahPresents co-hosts the Banff Mountain Film Festival every year, which is a three-day showing of outdoor films. UtahPresents typically hosts about 15 shows a season, starting in September and ending in April.

In the 2022-23 season, the organization also hosted events like a reading from Heidi Schreck, writer of the Tony Award-nominated play “What the Constitution Means to Me,” a circus performance from Cirque Kalabanté, an organization that promotes African culture, and a performance from the College Dance Collective in partnership with the U’s School of Dance.

UtahPresents executive director Chloe Jones emphasized the organization’s commitment to diversifying the cultural landscape of Salt Lake. “Part of what excites me so much about UtahPresents is that every time you come, it’s going to be something completely different,” she said.

UtahPresents also offers opportunities for students to engage in the arts in a variety of ways, including through workshops they host. They also provide job opportunities, where students can work as ushers, box office employees or as part of the production crew. 


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