October 1, 2011

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Sandy’s Renowned Art Scene Earns a Standing Ovation

Heather Beers

October 1, 2011

Want to take in the symphony, ballet or musical theater? You’re thinking of heading downtown, but what about Sandy City? Just 20 minutes from the epicenter of arts and culture in Utah is a thriving arts community you simply won’t want to miss.

Sandy is home to the Sandy Arts Guild, which produces and supports both visual and performing arts. It’s also where you’ll find successful community-based organizations like Mountain West Ballet and the American West Symphony of Sandy. What makes Sandy one of Utah’s most vibrant arts communities—and a hotspot for surprisingly affordable arts? We asked the people behind the scenes.

In the Spotlight: Sandy Arts Guild
From youth theater and big Broadway-style productions to seasonal concert series and visual arts, Sandy City is the place to be, thanks in part to the Sandy Arts Guild. For more than 26 years, the Sandy Arts Guild has fostered the growth of the performing and visual arts in Utah’s sixth-largest city.

Steven Ireland, marketing development specialist for Sandy’s community events department, says the Arts Guild’s mission is to “provide educational and performance opportunities that develop talent, skills and enduring appreciation for the arts.” So when performers or artists come together with audiences who enjoy their work, it’s a “two-fold return,” he says.

With the Sandy Arts Guild’s full calendar, there’s a lot of “two-fold returning” going on. The year kicks off with an annual Chamber Theater production, held at the Sandy City Hall Council Chambers. Past years’ performances have included Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

In the spring, theater, art and choral music share the stage. Sandy’s youth theater performances typically feature a junior version of major musicals (this year’s was High School Musical, Jr.). Sandy also hosts an Elementary School Arts Show, produced in conjunction with Canyons School District. And in May, the Guild organizes an Interfaith Music Festival where church choirs from throughout Sandy converge to perform individual and collaborative pieces with a guest conductor.

May also marks the launch of the Sandy Amphitheater Concert Series, with more than 20 performances through September. The Sandy Amphitheater’s other big draw is the annual summer musical. With talented casts, custom sets and a live orchestra under the direction of a professional musical director, these performances are a testament to what good community theater can be. Over the years crowds have enjoyed under-the-stars performances of Hairspray, Guys and Dolls, Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and more.

And in November, the Arts Guild focuses on visual arts with its Sandy Arts Show. Now celebrating its fifth year, the Guild transforms the ballroom of the Sandy Senior Center (the city’s largest venue of this kind) into a gallery where artists from all over Utah exhibit their work. The show selects one artist from Sandy each year as the featured artist.

As evidence of Sandy City’s emphasis on the arts, the Arts Guild’s board of trustees is comprised of the Sandy City Council, with Mayor Tom Dolan serving as the Guild’s CEO. The Guild’s executive board includes about 20 members of the community who are leaders in business and social efforts.

As a nonprofit entity, the Arts Guild’s funding comes from both private and public sources, including Salt Lake County’s Zoo Arts & Parks program, the Utah Arts Council Foundation, corporate donations and grants. In addition to great leadership and community support, Ireland attributes the success of Sandy’s arts largely to the passion of its residents. Many of the programs are performed by volunteers who believe in the positive impact arts can have.

“A lot of families take part in what we do,” says Ireland. “They get together and spend time as a family [through the arts].” He adds that for many, getting involved is an unforgettable experience. “We had a gentleman whose very first musical he’d ever been in was last summer, Guys and Dolls. He came to us and said it changed his whole life. He’s auditioned for everything we’ve done since, and he was back in Hairspray this year.”

For an up-to-date events calendar, visit www.sandyarts.com.

On Pointe: Mountain West Ballet
While Utah boasts Ballet West, the world-renowned professional company about 15 miles south is an emerging force in semi-professional ballet: Mountain West Ballet. Since 1983, dancers have pirouetted their way across the stage in Sandy thanks to Mountain West Ballet’s nonprofit efforts.

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