What’s in a name?

After over 40 years of providing art education in Cache Valley, the Alliance for the Varied Arts is retiring their name and merging with the Cache Valley Center for the Arts. The public is invited to celebrate past achievements and honor Jenny Allen, AVA’s departing marketing director, at an open house June 23, 2010 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Thatcher-Young Mansion, 35 W 100 S in Logan. “The merger with the Cache Valley Center for the Arts opens a new chapter on arts education in Cache Valley,” says Tricia Hancock, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Cache Valley Center for the Arts and the new contact person for art education programs at the center for the arts. “Most of our active programs—the book and puppet project, Art Camp, ceramics instruction, Logan Youth Shakespeare, Valley Dance Ensemble, Unicorn Theatre, gallery walks and guitar and piano instruction at the Thatcher-Young Mansion—are continuing uninterrupted. The unknown factor is the gallery in the Mansion. We don’t have funding in place to continue it as it was, so we will be going to the community—particularly the artistic community—to see what their needs and interests are.” At the open house on the 23rd the AVA will be wishing a fond farewell to their marketing director, Jenny Allen, who has been responsible for most of the day to day work of the organization for nearly two years. “Jenny has been the life blood of the AVA,” says Alliance for the Varied Arts Executive Director Wendi Hassan, “I don’t know what we would have done without her, especially over these last few months with the extra work required to shift programs to a new administrative structure. We received stimulus funding to preserve the marketing position this year and it stings to ultimately lose the position, but the funding and Jenny’s help gave us time to preserve our artistic programs.” The Alliance for the Varied Arts formed in the late 1960s with a group of passionate and talented artists that originally called themselves the Alliance for the Visual Arts. The organization’s first address was the tiny art gallery in the newly remodeled USU Merrill Library—right by the restrooms. In the beginning activities were university centered and held after-hours on campus. Very soon, the organizers felt the need to have a community art center where workshops and exhibits could be held. Under the leadership of Twain Tippetts, a photographer and art professor, the small group began to look for funding and in the early 1970s the AVA, now including instruction in drama, dance, ceramics, fiber arts and music, took up residence in the Whittier School. Soon they occupied the entire building and started such cherished traditions as Holly Faire, Pioneer day activities, and a holiday tree festival. Excellent arts programs such as the Cache Valley Civic Ballet, Unicorn Theatre and Valley Dance Ensemble either had close ties with the AVA in these early days or started out as AVA programs. The AVA moved to the Bullen Center when it opened as part of the Ellen Eccles Theatre restoration in 1993, and in 2001 moved the gallery and office to the newly restored Thatcher-Young Mansion, which it leased from the CVCA. From the beginning, volunteerism has fueled the activities of the Alliance for the Varied Arts. “What I wouldn’t give for a list of all the people who have been involved with the AVA,” says current Executive Director Wendi Hassan. “It would be pages and pages long. I scarcely run into a person without finding that at some time they have worked for the AVA.” In fact, until recent regulatory complexity dictated the hiring of an executive director a few years ago, the Alliance for the Varied Arts was the oldest volunteer run arts organization in the state of Utah. After the AVA office closes June 25, information about art education programs will be available through the Cache Valley Center for the Arts, 752-0026, www.centerforthearts.us.

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