Annual ArtsForce Networking Event: Bringing Salt Lake artists together for rich conversations and connections

April 05 2018

By Rachel Luebbert

The 6th Annual ArtsForce Networking Event on March 10 reminded us of the strength and vibrancy of the Salt Lake arts community. During this all-day event, nearly 50 local artists joined students for three panels and a networking luncheon. ArtsForce is a student run organization with the support of Associate Dean Liz Leckie that is dedicated to creating programs to prepare students to be successful in their professional careers.

Beginning with a faculty panel, we were joined with Sonia Albert-Sobrino (DepaFilm), Stephanie Doktor (Music), Cynthia Flemming (Theatre), Michael Wall (Dance) and Zi Zhang (Art & Art History). These professors shared their experiences as both educators and professional artists. They reminded us of the incredible value of education in the arts as a career path and as a way to support the upcoming generation of artists. Wall encouraged students to “have faith in their process.” The act of creating and developing art takes time, be patient with yourself and listen to where your process is taking you.

During the alumni panel we were joined with Alyssa Bertelsen (Rise Up), Cindy Chen (Spy Hop), Samantha Matsukawa (College of Fine Arts), Daniel Mont-Eton (Ririe Woodbury), Karem Orrego (Sundance Institute), Paul Hill and Alex Coltrin. These individuals are working as freelance artists, entrepreneurs, performers, and as administrators in development and marketing. They shared their exciting and varied experiences upon graduation and how they have found purpose and passion in their current arts sector. Bertelsen shared her experience starting the ballet school Rise Up and how she connected with many unexpected community members from flooring experts to financial advisors to help develop this school. She reminded students that your connections with individuals of different backgrounds can deeply support your artistic endeavors in surprising ways. Do not underestimate the power of networking with people of different experiences.

During the Networking Luncheon, students had the opportunity to interact with over 30 arts organizations. Throughout this event, connections were made between students of different disciplines, students and organizations, and even within professionals. Real opportunities and collaborations were sparked in this structured and supportive forum.  

The last panel opened a conversation about Women in the Arts. We were joined by Miriam Albert-Sobrino (Department of Film and Media Studies), Jaimee Christensen (WildWorks), Elizabeth Craft (School of Music), Brooke Horejsi (Utah Presents), and Whitney Tassie (UMFA). These women discussed the struggles of representation, pay gaps, and gaining opportunities in the arts. They encouraged students to figure out their sphere of influence and make conscious choices to advocate for artists of all identities including people of color, women, immigrants, and those identifying as LGBTQIA.

The 6th Annual Networking Event sparked rich conversations and interactions. This event was supported by the Salt Lake arts community, Dean Schelb, faculty, arts professionals, and staff. Students can continue interacting with ArtsForce by visiting the Canvas Community. Applications are now open to be an Emerging Leaders Intern and plan the ArtsForce events during the 2018-19 school year.