Chloe Jones ’11 is back on familiar ground. As the new executive director of UtahPresents, and the assistant dean for art and creative engagement for the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, her home base is now Kingsbury Hall.
“I took my first dance class at Tanner Dance when I was two,” Chloe said. “I have vivid memories of being in Kingsbury Hall growing up. It’s surreal to be back on campus in this new capacity.”
I am very committed to continuing our mission of bringing diverse artistic and cultural experiences here to
Salt Lake.—Chloe Jones ’11
While Chloe’s office may be in Kingsbury Hall, the mission of UtahPresents reaches well beyond the grand staircase that leads to the theater. The organization stages performances and cultural experiences across Salt Lake County with the help of several partner organizations. It is also instrumental in arts education, with programs spanning from kindergarten through high school, and into colleges and universities.
“I was drawn to UtahPresents because of the organization’s strong foundation, and I’m excited to continue building on the successes they have had in the past,” Chloe said. “I am very committed to continuing our mission of bringing diverse artistic and cultural experiences here to Salt Lake.”
Chloe is one of the hundreds of thousands of people who make art possible in communities around the world, but she’s not who you might think of when you think of someone who works in the arts. You may picture an actor or prima ballerina, or an up-and-coming sculptor with a hot new show, and while those people are important, they aren’t all the arts have to offer—and are actually a very small part of the overall puzzle.
“A career in the arts is not only about being a performer,” said Sofia Gorder, Rowland Hall’s arts chair of dance education and Chloe’s former dance teacher. “The way we frame a career in the arts has to really shift and change and recognize that it is part of a larger whole, rather than an isolated marginalized space where very few succeed.”
The opportunity to explore different facets of the arts is one of the reasons Chloe is now with UtahPresents. In her new role, she said she is asking what is possible within the arts, and how to tap into the sense of curiosity that brings people to the spaces where art occurs. “Often younger individuals’ relationship to art is through their own practice of art or through consumption of art,” she said. “There are infinite ways to be an artist or an arts worker. That's the beauty of the arts—the space for imagination, creativity, and innovation is vast.”
And those active in the arts will tell you that art should not be centered around a person or persons in the spotlight, but instead involve entire communities. The more voices and contributions to the process, the richer and more profound it becomes. That is the power of art, and its presence enriches the lives of everyone it touches. This is why schools, including Rowland Hall, so strongly emphasize the importance of arts education.
“Art turns up the volume on our nerves so we confront the world in a way that is more human. It allows us to see the world and feel the world, perceive that world that is richer because of the lenses that art gives us,” said Chloe’s former English teacher Joel Long, who teaches Upper School English and creative writing at Rowland Hall today. “All those things heighten our ability and our vulnerability and allow us to enter the world more fully.”
Chloe also knows it isn’t just how art connects us to the world, but also how it connects us to each other and spurs us to action, making us brave in the times when we are most fearful. “I think the arts give us inroads to understand different social issues,” said Chloe. “They are a critical way of convening and building community around those issues. I feel very strongly we need the arts to inspire us.”
Chloe’s education at Rowland Hall laid the groundwork of her arts-filled career. She was a Lifer, or a student who attended the school for 12 or more years. She described the school as her community growing up, and said she is especially thankful she was chosen as a Cumming Scholar in ninth grade. During high school she was a member of the dance company and the co-editor-in-chief of the literary magazine, Tesserae. But it was the more intangible skills she gained that proved to be the most useful.
Rowland Hall made me a critical and curious thinker, and reinforced my love of questions and helped me become more creative and strategic in trying to answer those questions. It was such a nurturing and academically challenging environment, and that combination made me more resilient—and you need to be resilient to pursue a career in the arts.—Chloe Jones ’11
“Rowland Hall made me a critical and curious thinker, and reinforced my love of questions and helped me become more creative and strategic in trying to answer those questions,” she said. “It was such a nurturing and academically challenging environment, and that combination made me more resilient—and you need to be resilient to pursue a career in the arts.”
After Rowland Hall, Chloe attended and graduated from Wesleyan University, and began her career working at the Wesleyan Center for the Arts. From there she went to The Yard, a residency supporting performers and creators on Martha’s Vineyard, where she worked as director of development and associate producer before becoming executive director. Moving through the organization helped her develop skills in fundraising, nonprofit management, curation, and programming. “It was a unique opportunity to invest in the creative process by supporting new work development, while also investing in public programs that build community through the arts,” Chloe said.
“I’m super proud of her. She has done amazing things,” said Joel of Chloe’s work in the arts. He’s also excited about how these skills promise to now make an impact on Chloe’s hometown. “I am thrilled that she is doing something that will matter to her and could matter to others in relation to the arts,” he said
Now back in Utah, Chloe is certainly applying these early career experiences to her new role. UtahPresents engages more than 45,000 people throughout the Salt Lake Valley in the arts every year through performances, education, and outreach, and Chloe hopes to see those numbers grow and to see experiences diversified. Currently, they are looking at more off-site performances and opportunities like the “Stagedoor” series, where the audience enters from backstage and then sits on the stage to watch the performance.
“It's been energizing to rejoin a campus community at the University of Utah and tap into the sense of curiosity that exists in that environment,” Chloe said. “It is helping me ask the question of what else is possible within the arts. This job really is a homecoming of my dreams.”
It’s a dream homecoming for Salt Lake and the extended community as well. Chloe is set to open doors to a whole new generation of artists, arts sector professionals, and patrons of the arts. Because of her work more people will know what’s possible, and it all started with a Rowland Hall education that never discounted the power of the arts.