ArtsForceAsks: Lucas Goodrich & Cassandra Yerkes of SLC's The BLOCKS

January 04 2021

By Merinda Christensen 

Hello College of Fine Arts students!

I had the opportunity to sit down with Lucas Goodrich, the Cultural Core Program Director and Cassandra Yerkes, the Operations Manager for The BLOCKS and talk about their experience working with the vibrant art community in Salt Lake City. I wanted to learn more about the skills they use as professional artists in a field that focuses more on the business side of the arts.

Lucas completed his doctorate at the University of Utah in Vocal Performance and Stage Direction. As an artist himself, I was curious to learn more about his role with The BLOCKS and how his college degree translated into what he does now.

Lucas’s role as the Cultural Core Program Director is overseeing the fiscal management with all things downtown to understand the landscape of restaurants, businesses, and the nighttime economy. He deals with top art organizations all the way down to 1-2-man operations. He told me, “The culture core isn’t meant to make money, it’s meant to apply the funds and resources to all of the arts and culture groups in a way that will bring people to Salt Lake City, drive audiences, and put eyes on artists and their brand.” I asked him what he enjoys most about working with so many artists and art organizations and he explained that he loves seeing the impact the arts has on people.

“Artists are some of the most resilient people we know, and they will continue to create” – Lucas Goodrich

Cassandra graduated from Westminster in Arts Administration and works hard to advocate, support, and create art in downtown Salt Lake City as the Operations Manager. I asked Cassandra how the community has impacted her. She said because the arts are so integrated into our everyday lives, it is important that people come downtown looking to find that sense of discovery. Those that come are immersed in the art around them. She loves seeing the arts come alive and thrive in unique spaces.

Finally, I asked both Lucas and Cassandra advice they would give to students looking to work in the arts. Cassandra explained that it is important to be eager and proactive about things, be a do-er, and do not be afraid to fail! Never say no to an opportunity that will progress your skills.

“Find an opportunity that doesn’t seem like it’s going to require your artistic skills and put your creativity into it” – Cassandra Yerkes

Lucas explained that having the ability to improvise is so important. You cannot think backwards, you’ve got to continue to move forward. You learn discipline as an artist and how to collaborate. And you learn how to say "thank you." The power of "thank you" and the power of taking and accepting feedback speaks volumes. 

ArtsForce takeaways:

- Never say no to any opportunity that will progress your skills!

- There are so many opportunities to express your creativity – don’t limit yourself.

- Explore your community, meet new people, and learn what is going on around you. Doing that, you will find new and exciting opportunities to advance your art and skill. 

It was so great to talk to both Lucas and Cassandra about their experiences and insights. Click here to learn more about The BLOCKS and what they are doing every day to keep the arts alive and growing in Salt Lake City and follow their Instagram @theblocksslc!

*Author Merinda Christensen is an Instrumental Performance major in the School of Music, with an emphasis in harp. She is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce.