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Money, networking and forty years of theatre assistance

The Utah Theatre Association was founded back in 1977 by a group of educators who wanted to create a forum where high school students could meet each other in a friendly, non-competitive way and celebrate their skills and talents while learning more about theatre together.

It’s been working since.

This year, the Utah Theatre Association was held at Weber State University from Jan. 17 to 19. The theatre association also held playwriting-specific workshops at Tooele High School, Cedar High School, Weber High School, Green Canyon High School and Jordan High School.

“I really wanted to come to this conference to see all of the different colleges and universities out there that have amazing theater programs to help me further along my career as an actor,” said Cottonwood High School student Amber Delliskave.

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Costumes were displayed at the tables from productions. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost) Photo credit: Kelly Watkins

The Utah Theatre Association aims to create a educational conference that provides Utah secondary education students the opportunity to have a positive and enlightening theatrical experience.

Each year, around 2000 students and teachers from across the state participate in the theatre association.

“I want to major in theater and thought this would be a great opportunity to come see every option available to me,” said Carbon High School student Joshua Jeffrey.

In the early days of the festivals, they were held in the conference rooms of Salt Lake City hotels. After the Utah Theatre Association conference expanded, the Board of Directors began bringing theatre professionals to teach specialized workshops to conference attendees, and colleges and universities began hosting them. The focus on bringing actors, playwrights and technicians together hasn’t changed.

“This is a conference that I’ve always wanted to go to, and I’m so excited to be here to meet so many people with the same interest and passion for theater as me,” said Carbon High School student Paul Spooner.

The Utah Theatre Association also focuses on introducing high school students to representatives from colleges across the region. Promising actors, technicians and playwrights have opportunities at scholarship money through the UTA, and along with other conference sponsors, the theatre association gives out an average of $5000 in cash awards each year.

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Students were able to mingle with other theater fans and performers at the event. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost) Photo credit: Kelly Watkins

Recently, the UTA has expanded its scope to become a resource for theater educators. The organization’s board of directors is comprised of educators from public and private schools with representatives from middle and high schools. Colleges and universities are also invited to have representatives on the board.

Over the past few years, the UTA has also built ties with the Utah State Office of Education in order to better benefit educators.

While the initial focus of the organization was to connect high school students with success and expanded opportunities, the theatre association looks to help benefit everyone involved.

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