Eleven Utahns, including two from Utah County, recently certified in organization and arts-based community development through the Utah Arts Council's Change Leader program.

Newly certified from Utah County are Janet Low of the Orem City Arts Council and Bjorn Pendleton of the Spanish Fork Arts Council.

Low's project was to write out a plan for the annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in August. Although the festival is in its 19th year, a written plan had never been developed. It started as a Friends of the Orem City Library project.

Now the festival volunteers, library and city officials are becoming more tightly knit with boards of other art groups in the community. Brainstorming includes how to share ideas and growth with Utah Valley University, SCERA and Hale Center theaters in a community effort.

"The old ways aren't working anymore," she said.

Pendleton's project was to get support for a cultural arts and heritage center in Spanish Fork. The center would include the Icelandic Association of Utah and Utah pioneer groups, along with other heritage groups, he said.

"I realized we couldn't go to the City Council and ask to build (the heritage center) until we developed the programs," he said.

The city initially supported the concept but more recently withdrew support for a feasibility study that could cost as much as $25,000. Pendleton said he's considering turning to Brigham Young University for assistance on the study.

In 2006, Pendleton, then president of the Spanish Fork Arts Council, started enhancing the arts programs by founding a Spanish Fork orchestra and naming Spanish Fork High School music teacher Rick Lunt as director of the community choir.

The Arts Council also boosted its Children's Arts Festival held in June. Starting from a usual attendance of 150 it went to 550 last month and from 20 classes to 30, Pendleton said.

A fall adult arts festival started in 1995 has also grown.

Meanwhile, the Art Council's budget has jumped from $8,500 to $77,500 now. Some $18,000 of that came from the youth theater program, while the remainder was negotiated from the Spanish Fork City Council, he said.

The leadership program has been instrumental in getting a Utah Arts Council Creative Communities Initiative Grant from the Utah Legislature. Grant projects are listed on the Utah Arts Council Web site, arts.utah.gov/funding.

Based in towns and cities across Utah, the trained leaders are equipped to create positive change in their communities, making them better places in which to live, said Margaret Hunt, executive director of the Utah Arts Council. To become certified, they were required to attend a weeklong training conference and complete and present the results of a related project.


E-mail: rodger@desnews.com