Cache Valley has always been a center for the arts in Utah. In fact, Logan’s Historic Theatre District boasts of four beautiful buildings that all have very busy performance schedules Most of these buildings, by the way have undergone significant renovations thanks to a very supportive community that loves the arts. [MUSIC] [Mary] So, what is it about Logan that makes it such a thriving arts and cultural center? [Craig Jessop] I feel uniquely qualified to answer that question. because I grew up here and I’m 4th generation And, my great-grandfather was one of the first pioneers to settle the valley. And, they loved the arts! These early pioneers brought with them music, theatre, dance… And, it was an important part to improve the quality of their lives. And, then when the agriculture college of Utah started a man by the name of George Cain came as head of Dairy Science. And he married Marie Eccles. She and her siblings were taught a love for the arts by their parents. They loved the opera, they loved theater, the visual arts… And they, through the years, just endowed and gave, and gave, and gave. Logan was called, in the early days, The Athens of the West. It has a university, it had a temple, and it had a theatre, just like the Greeks did in Athens. [Mary] Michael, what a pleasure to be with you! [Michael Ballam] Hi Mary. It’s always nice to be with you. [Mary] Ok, your life has been so intricately intertwined with this beautiful theatre. since the time you were five, and you helped save it. [Michael] That’s right. This is more of my home than any home I’ve lived in. My first public performance, on a real stage, was right down there. She was built in 1923 as a palace for the arts, particularly opera but, in 1958, that all ended. She needed some help, this beautiful building. In a window that was that big of this building ceasing to exist. [Mary] 48 hours…they were going to tear it down. [Michael] Because we needed parking space here. But I was able to convince a dear, dear man Eugene Needham the Third, to give it away, to give it to the city of Logan. And with the help of some of our very special friends like the Eccles family we were able to bring it back to life and SO much volunteerism! I bet we had 5 million dollars worth of volunteer work. People who really loved the building. They should! It has a history that goes back to the beginning. many generations She’s a grand lady She just needed a prince to awaken her. [Mary] All that renovation takes a lot of funding [Wendi Hassan] It absolutely does. [Mary] So, what makes this community so supportive? [Wendi] It’s a tradition of growing up with it, learning it, having it be part of our lives. And, then, coming and seeing your neighbors. is a valued tradition. We’re really fortunate because we have these three historic theaters visionary investments of founding fathers what are trying to build roads and irrigation ditches and their own houses who invested in these communal spaces So, to have them preserved is huge. To have so much interest from different corners, in preserving them and so much private funding that has gone into that support is really remarkable. [Mary] How does the University contribute to this rich cultural fabric? [Craig] It’s one of the prominent players in the arts scene in the valley. We have a department of art and design, a department of theater, and a department of music. And this happens to be the year of the arts. The university declared it because we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Chase Fine Arts Center. October 18, 1967 I was a senior in high school and came to that opening [Mary laughing] [Mary] So the legacy just continues. You are now with the American Festival Chorus as well? [Craig] Yes. After my years with the Tabernacle Choir I came home…and, I had to have a choir! It’s been my whole life since I was a boy. We decided to call it the American Festival Chorus. [CHOIR SINGS/ORCHESTRA PLAYS] We have 220 members. It’s our 10th Anniversary season! [Michael] And once we had an opera house open it just seemed we needed to have an opera company. It just screamed “Bring it back!” So, 30 years after the last operatic performance, which was Madame Butterfly, There we were! [Mary] An international festival. [Michael] It is. [Mary] The Utah Opera Festival. [Mary] And it’s amazing, for a community this size, to support so much. But you all seem to work together. [Wendi] I think we have a rich and varied ecosystem of the arts here that’s unparalleled. I’ve never seen such cooperation Where they program eachother. So, you’ll have the Mozart Opera, the Magic Flute, over here and the Lyric is doing Amadeus and the choir performs the Mozart Requium. And, so, sometimes we’ll play with each other that way. There’s so much that we share. We share technicians, performers, musicians… So we work together on projects and it makes it better for all of us. [Michael] This building thrives with glorious music and drama. It’s had a history of that sort of thing! It was the great vaudeville house of Utah. George Burns and Gracie Allen…. …the Marx Brothers… …John Phillips Souza — they were down there. Mr. Thatcher spent all of his fortune on this building. We owe it to him. And to all of those pioneer forefathers who sacrificed for beauty. We owe them that! To keep it alive. [MUSIC & APPLAUSE] [Mary] Come to beautiful Cache Valley and indulge in its many cultural offerings from the historic theatre district to all the venues on Utah State University campus. This small town offers world class entertainment for the whole family.