Series: This Is Utah
If You Build It...
Sometimes all it takes to get a project off the ground is one person to lay the groundwork. We’ll learn how the Utah Shakespeare Festival keeps fans coming back to Cedar City year after year, meet the local artists working to revitalize historic small-town Helper, and see how five architecture grad students work together to build a new home for a Diné mother.
Founded in 1961, the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City is one of the oldest and largest in North America. This Tony Award-winning theatrical production draws more than 100,000 people to the grounds of Southern Utah University each year, and once they’ve seen a show, they tend to keep coming back. Brian Vaughn, the group’s artistic director, is a testament of that — he’s worked at the festival since he was a teenager. According to Brian, it’s the passion of the actors and crew and the depth of human emotion portrayed onstage that keeps people coming back year after year.
In rural central Utah, a beautiful landscape, affordable cost of living, and comparative lack of distractions makes for a great place to create art. Named for the locomotives that helped coal-bearing freight trains up Price Canyon, the town of Helper was in the midst of an economic slide when three University of Utah art professors set up shop in the late 1990s, and brought their students with them. Now, university transplants and local creatives alike are leading an artist’s revitalization of historic Helper, from the restored 1940s Conoco station on Main Street to the annual Helper Arts, Music & Film Festival.
Building a house isn’t easy — just ask the students of DesignBuildBLUFF. Each fall, this academic design build program through The University of Utah sends a group of graduate students on a semester-long cultural exchange mission, with the task of building a home or resource center in a native community in Utah’s four corners area. We’ll see how five city women take inspiration from the land, the local community, and one another to build a home that one Diné mother can be proud to call her own.