Consortium connects Rocky Mountain heritage, arts and tourism
Adding to his personal epiphany was Romney’s experience travelling with his wife’s folk dance company to Europe. “The Europeans cherish their folklore,” Romney said. “Every little town had a festival or house of folklore where they learned music and dances. American folklore is really interesting to Europeans, but in America it is languishing.”
Because of these experiences, Romney formed the Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts organization to authentically represent the stories and people of Utah’s past and present. He also began to meet like-minded people — including Sidwell.
After three years of successful conferences, the Rocky Mountain Living History Consortium began to fade awaydue to fiscal factors. In spite of this, Sidwell did not give up on the idea.
“I still felt that it could do some good,” Sidwell said.
A conversation with Wilson Martin, director of the Utah Division of State History and the State Historical Preservation Officer, turned Romney’s attention to connecting tourism and living history events.
“It was Clive’s energy that revived the consortium to becoming something far beyond what we had originally conceived,” Sidwell said.
Romney and Sidwell agree that the vision is to create a unique niche in the U.S. cultural and heritage tourism market by making Utah the state with the highest quality living history presentations and performances in the U.S.
Romney said he and consortium organizers are working to create a strong network of connections with state agencies, museums, and non-profit organizations to make living history one of the reasons tourists come to Utah.
He said he envisions cultural heritage living history presentations bringing people to Utah the way Utah’s spectacular scenery and outdoor sports do.
“If folks from out of state came and saw engaging, world-class living history presenters wherever they went, I think it really would make an impact on the state's tourism.
“To do this, we’ll need to help each other with our presentation skills through conferences, trainings and newsletters,” Sidwell said. That is one purpose and benefit of the consortium to members.
Other touted benefits include: connecting with other like-minded organizations, publicity for consortium member events, representation to the Department of Heritage and Arts, the Utah Tourism Industry Coalition, the Utah Office of Tourism, Visit Salt Lake, Utah State Legislators, as well as opportunities to showcase products and talents at an annual “Living History Soiree,” and a web presence at www.rmlhc.org.
Payne’s reaction to the consortium idea sums up what many of those attending the “Living History Soirée” voiced in a variety of ways:
“We're living in a moment during which there's a surge of popular energy surrounding genealogy and heritage. There's momentum behind that idea – look at the success of programs like 'Who Do You Think You Are?' and burgeoning companies like www.ancestry.com.
“It will be interesting to see the consortium reach out to a new audience on its own terms and in new and vibrant ways — an audience just discovering a love affair with its heritage. There are real opportunities there,” Payne said.
If the reaction of those attending the “Living History Soirée” is any indication, the future of the Rocky Mountain Living History Consortium looks bright.
Types of organizations represented in the Rocky Mountain Living History Consortium include: sites that offer living history interpretation, organizations that learn and share heritage arts; organizations who collect, promote and preserve history; state park museums and local history museums. A sampling of the almost 50 organizations currently associated with the consortium includes:
American West Heritage Center
Church History Museum
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