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DePaulis unifying 'divisions'

Published: Monday, Dec. 11 2006 12:44 a.m. MST

When Palmer DePaulis tells people he's executive director of the Department of Community and Culture, they're often not quite sure what that means.

Then he names the divisions: Utah Arts Council, Ethnic Affairs, Indian Affairs, State History, State Library, Housing and Community Development.

The response, he said, usually goes something like "it sounds like the span of it is very big."

So he explains how the divisions' missions tend to overlap and how he envisions "putting all these resources into building strong communities."

The department was created by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. out of the former Department of Community and Economic Development, when the governor moved economic development into his office.

DePaulis, a former mayor of Salt Lake City, sees the new Department of Community and Culture as a "community of divisions," which are diverse but also linked together.

"If we are all about community, it is incumbent on us to bring those divisions together," he said. "There has to be collaboration ... so that we are an example of a good and well-functioning community."

DePaulis said his vision includes a one-time funding request to digitize his department's materials into "an educational gold mine of information." The project could take a few years, Palmer said.

"We're all about preserving this stuff," he said. "We want to be able to have a single port for artifacts, cultural heritage, photographs."

Huntsman is reviewing budget requests and will release his recommended budget soon, said Mike Mower, the governor's spokesman.

Phil Notoriano, director of the Division of History, said different divisions currently may be using different systems for digitization. It would be helpful, he said, to coordinate those efforts and make them compatible.

"We are trying to digitize the information we have," he said. "It makes it available to the largest audience possible."

DePaulis said while the divisions do work together, he'd like to see more ideas for collaboration.

Margaret Hunt, director of the Division of Arts and Museums, said while each division has a unique focus, it's often helpful to work together.

"I think we are always looking for areas we can collaborate because we've got limited resources," she said.

Some examples of those collaborations include:

• "Hecho en Utah," recordings of Latino artists as part of an oral history project, in which Arts and Museums provided folklorists who collaborated with the State Library.

• For the past two years Arts and Museums has collaborated with State History's annual meeting. This year, the division provided art from the state collection and artifacts to illustrate the "Nifty '50s" in an exhibit at the Rio Grande.

• The divisions of History and Archives have a jointly operated research facility and cross-trained staffs. The Division of Archives is part of the Department of Administrative Services.

"If you look at economic development, you often hear that people or businesses choose to locate somewhere because of quality of life," Hunt said. "That can be hard to define. If you think of the cultural and social amenities of a state, it includes arts, cultures and museums. It's history, it's the living environment, it's culture including ethnic diversity and cultural heritage. There is that common unifying theme."


E-mail: dbulkeley@desnews.com

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