SALT LAKE CITY- Utah lawmakers and residents alike gathered together at the State Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 9, to celebrate the arts.
The Utah Department of Heritage and Arts partnered with the Utah Division of Arts and Museums to host Utah Art Day. Tables of artwork created by students from across the state were on display. Performers in the Capotp; rotunda helped promote the importance of the arts, especially for kids.
Tom Alder, a member of the state art council board, said board members were working closely with legislators to make sure the budget for Utah’s arts and museums is funded.
Currently, lawmakers spend $500,000 every year to the arts programs across the state. “It’s not like we are just buying art and so forth, it’s a much bigger deal,” said Alder.
Many different organizations and partners came to represent at the event. One in attendance was a group called SpyHop, a non-profit youth media arts and education center based in Salt Lake.
Kasandra Verbrugghen,a representative for Spy Hop, said, “There aren’t a lot of opportunities in the informal learning environment for the arts in our community for young people, in particular for teenagers that are getting ready for adulthood. It is really important to provide programming that is engaging and interesting for young people.”
Malissa Morrell and Mary Stanley represented the Utah Art Therapy Association at the event. They were promoting art therapy and explaining why it is important.
“Art therapy can cover anyone from ages 4 to 94. I think it’s great for anyone who has tried therapy before and didn’t feel like it helped them or they need something extra. It’s just really helpful to get those thoughts and feelings out in a different way,” Morrell said.
Stanley went on to explain the different genre’s of art that may be used in an art therapy session. These include drawing, sculpting, painting, or even using the spoken word, just depending on the therapist and the patient in therapy.
“There’s a lot of pom-poms and glitter that happen in my office too. It’s whatever is going to work to get that emotion out and make it understandable, that’s what we want to do,” said Morrell.
Currently all arts therapists are board certified, but not recognized as licensed in Utah. The association’s ultimate goal is for legislators to create an official therapist license.
In addition to bringing more awareness to the importance of the arts, organizers gave 21 high school students scholarships. The scholarships celebrated students’ participation and outstanding pieces in the Utah Senate Visual Arts Scholarship competition. Their artwork was displayed during the event.