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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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West Valley Arts Highlights Local Communities

Opportunities to learn, experience and celebrate art, culture and community.
Josi Hinds
Utah Cultural Celebration Center (Photo by Josi Hinds | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


As you drive up the road to the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, an outdoor amphitheater and the Chinese Heritage Gate sit on one side of the building. On the other side, a stylized globe greets visitors entering the center’s parking lot. Inside, the building opens into a big hall with a stage area on one side and smaller break-out rooms on the other.

What tops off an experience at the UCCC, though, is the art experiences sprinkled throughout the building. West Valley Arts, the arts agency for West Valley City, operates out of the UCCC. They have organized a myriad of community arts events and programs both in and out of the UCCC.

Gallery Spaces

West Valley Arts is a non-profit that aims to create “opportunities to learn, experience and celebrate art, culture and community,” according to their website.

One of the ways they accomplish this is through their five gallery spaces in the UCCC. All are free to the public during gallery hours.

“We always seem to be successful doing our arts programming when we’re partnering with the community, in my opinion,” said Michael Christensen, the visual arts program manager for West Valley Arts.

Most exhibitions West Valley Art hosts have direct ties to the greater West Valley communities. For example, Christensen pointed to shows they host with the Utah Watercolor Society, Mary Meigs Atwater Weavers Guild and the American Association of University Women.

West Valley Arts also calls for entries to curate exhibits and respond to individual exhibition inquiries. Sometimes Christensen will reach out to community groups himself to build an exhibit.

One of UCCC’s current exhibits, “Bling in the New Year,” is comprised of pieces done by members of the Glass Arts Guild of Utah. Christensen reached out to the group after their annual “Glass in the Garden Art Show” at Red Butte Garden to see if they’d be interested in showing pieces that didn’t sell at the center. “Bling in the New Year” will be on display until March 1.

“So the exhibits come about in any number of ways,” Christensen explained.

Of the other two exhibits currently showing, one is in partnership with the Sema Hadithi Foundation, which is dedicated to showcasing African American history in Utah and the Mountain West. “Black Soldiers of Utah” highlights the experiences of Black soldiers who have served in or lived in Utah. This exhibit is on view until Feb. 22.

The other exhibit, “Front Row Center: Icons of Rock, Blues, and Soul,” is a traveling exhibit on Larry Hulst’s photographs of iconic figures in music. The UCCC only hosts a traveling exhibit every few years, Christensen explained, usually thanks to grants given to West Valley Arts. Otherwise, this main gallery space is usually kept for bigger group exhibitions. “Front Row Center” is on display until March 27.

The UCCC has four other, less formal gallery spaces where they exhibit work. The other spaces are usually used for individual or small collective shows.

“It gives people an opportunity — like, ‘Hey, I’ve never shown before. What do I do?’” Christensen explained. West Valley Arts guides artists through the steps of showing their work when it’s their first time. “We say we find a way to say yes to people who get told no a lot.”

Community Arts

Alongside its visual programming, West Valley Arts has a professional theatre program and an education program.

The theatre program operates out of the West Valley Performing Arts Center. Shows put on by the program are comprised of local, professional talent and the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

The program is running “A Tale of Two Cities: The Musical” until Feb. 24. Afterward, they’ll be running “Shakespeare in Love: The Play” from April 12 to May 4.

ARTrageous, West Valley Arts’ educational program, offers a variety of opportunities to experience and learn about the arts.

ARTrageous Online!” introduces students to local community leaders in video presentations and more. Their online video series, “College Bound: Signature Moves for Kids,” is designed to “inspire kids to dream big for their future lives,” according to their website, and help kids identify their strengths and talents to do so.

Other opportunities for in-school programs, theatre and rehearsal space can be found on their website.


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About the Contributor
Josi Hinds, Arts Writer
Josi Hinds is in her second year at the University of Utah, majoring in communications with a minor in both gender studies and Spanish (for now). She grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and moved to Salt Lake in hopes of venturing out in the world and meeting new people. She joined the Chronicle out of a love for writing and meeting new people, and she hopes to share stories that broaden both her and others' perspective on the world

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