Daily Bytes | Public Issues

The Future of the Arts in South Salt Lake City


For our September 2013 edition of 15 Bytes we visited South Salt Lake City to check out the art on their streets. Then,  just when South Salt Lake City catches our eye as an art destination, we learn they are considering shutting down one of their long-standing art anchors, the Pioneer Craft House. After 63 years at its location in the historic Scott School Building on 3300 South, PCH has been told by South Salt Lake City that they will have to leave the building, meaning the non-profit may also be forced to leave the city.

The organization provides the city with community arts and crafts programs, exhibits and events (you can read an article on Pioneer Craft House in the March 2011 edition of 15 Bytes). With upcoming city elections in mind, a town hall meeting has been organized to consider “What is your vision for the arts in South Salt Lake City?” The meeting will be held Wednesday, September 11 at 6:30 pm at the Granite Peaks High School (501 East 3900 South) and will include a Q&A conversation with the public, candidates, PCH alumni, non-profit organizations and special guests Sheryl Gillilan, Director of Art Access, Kirsten Darrington, Asst. Director of Utah Arts & Museums and Dr. Raymond Bracken, art therapist at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute.

“We are hosting this town hall meeting to give residents a chance to speak up on their vision for the future of artistic expression in South Salt Lake during this election year for the City,” said Jeff Hatch, Board Chair of Pioneer Craft House. “The City has given us notice that, after 63 years providing the community with arts and crafts programs, exhibits and events on the Scott School campus at 500 East and 3300 South, we must leave the campus, which may require us to leave the City as well.”

Founded in 1947 as a Centennial gift to the Salt Lake by Glenn Beeley and such leading artists as Avard Fairbanks, George Dibble and Mary Atwater, Pioneer Craft House moved to South Salt Lake in 1950 in partnership with the Granite School District. Mrs. Beeley was successful in raising funds to expand the campus to five buildings, including the 1890 Scott School, to support programs in pottery, weaving, jewelry making, woodworking, and visual arts. After the Granite District closed Granite High across 3300 South from Pioneer Craft House, Salt Lake County showed its support for the historic mission by funding the purchase of the real estate from Granite, now co-owned by South Salt Lake City.

“It will be a sad day for city residents,” mused Bill Hughes, Co-Chair of the Pioneer Craft House Board, City resident and master flute-maker, “if the leading role we have played in the community comes to an end with no organization to take our place. It is critical that the public let City officials and this year’s candidates know they want the arts as part of South Salt Lake City life.”

The Open Meeting will be held at the Granite Peaks High, 501 East 3900 South, starting at 6:30 pm. All City Council and Mayoral candidates have been invited to listen to citizen input for the future of arts in South Salt Lake.

For further information, contact Jane Grau, administrator of Pioneer Craft House, at 801-481-7131 or thepioneercrafthouse@gmail.com. Pioneer Craft House is located at 500 East 3300 South, Salt Lake City, UT.

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