If it was not for Holly Robison and Mary Ann Kirk, Story Crossroads may not have existed for another five or more years. These two people worked together to develop and succeed with the Murray Storytelling Festival. Storytelling still was available to community members (at least for youth) in the Salt Lake County area through the Jordan School District Storytelling Festival and the Canyons School District Storytelling Festival. Though, Murray did things different by going beyond the Murray School District and holding residencies at the Murray Heritage Center for the seniors.
At the 2014 Mountain West Arts Conference, Mary Ann Kirk asked Rachel Hedman when there would be a first community planning meeting for a Salt Lake County storytelling event. Mary Ann wanted another opportunity for the youth tellers with the Murray Storytelling Festival to share their stories. Second graders to 12th graders shone on stage and needed to be heard by more people. She heard from other storytellers that Rachel had an idea already worked out though needed a push to make it happen.
So by June 2014, Story Crossroads had its first of five Community Planning Meetings (June, July, August, September, and October of 2014) and transitioned to official monthly Board Meetings in November 2014.
The City of Murray and the Cultural Arts encouraged storytelling through its annual Cemetery Tours and Haunted Tales long before the Murray Storytelling Festival that recently celebrated its 4th annual event.
Murray is now our host for the 2nd Annual Story Crossroads Festival on May 24, 2017 at the Murray City Park (296 E. Murray Park Ave., Murray, UT). They have several pavilions to give shade and shelter while being surrounded by lush trees and lakes. These pavilions are no strangers to the arts as every summer there are programs such as Arts in the Park Lunch Concerts every Tuesday at Noon, the free Children’s Matinee series every Thursday at 2:00pm. Beyond the park, there are once-a-month Family Night Concerts at the Heritage Senior Center. When fall comes around, the Missoula Children’s Theater works with local youth to produce a musical in a week’s time.
Though, let’s hear it from Mary Ann Kirk–
In 1992, the Murray City Cultural Arts program was created under the Parks and Recreation Department. Together, the Arts Advisory Board and the Cultural Programs Office have created year-round cultural activities including arts-in-education projects, workshops and camps, musicals, visual art exhibits and competitions. A summer and winter season, created together with local performing arts organizations, have been successfully operating since 1990. Murray Cultural Arts serves approximately 35,000 patrons each year.
Murray started their own storytelling festival in 2012-2013, providing professional instruction to schools during and after school, the senior center, library, and Boys and Girls Club. Finalists are selected from local workshops to participate in a city wide festival in the spring. We felt this art form was unfamiliar to many and provided a new opportunity. Arts leadership was thrilled when a county wide festival was established to give our storytellers an opportunity to strengthen and share their skills with the broader public. And we are excited that the county festival will be held in our community this year!
So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the City of Murray and the Cultural Arts!