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$1M Endowment Established at the Taft-Nicholson Center

With a gift of property, Melody Taft is establishing a $1M arts endowment at the University of Utah’s Taft-Nicholson Center. Taft is a founding supporter of the center and has donated her 160-acre ranch in Centennial Valley to the university. The endowment will be funded with proceeds from the sale of the property and will be administered by the director of the center. Earnings on the endowment will be used to support arts programming, including expenses associated with the Artists-In-Residence program and arts programming.

“This is a wonderfully generous gift and will strengthen the national and international reputation of the Artists-In-Residence program as well as secure the program’s long-term viability,” said Mark Bergstrom, director of the center. “We are grateful to Melody for her generosity and are excited to not only think critically and creatively about the program, but also to collaborate and stretch the impact of the program.”

The Artists-in-Residence program offers dedicated artists a supportive and transformational environment to further their creative development and share their work with the public. In a remote setting dedicated to the historical integrity of the land and the preservation of natural habitat and wildlife, artists experience unencumbered time to allow for thoughtful reflection and development of their work. Academic and working artists from diverse multidisciplinary fields are encouraged to apply. Residencies are open to visual artists, composers, writers, dancers, photographers, film makers, playwrights and textile artists, among others.

The program is one of many signature programs offered at the Taft-Nicholson Center which is housed in the College of Humanities. The center also offers summer faculty fellowships, undergraduate and graduate student courses, faculty and staff retreats, symposia, workshops, non-profit meetings and other events. The center was generously donated to the university in 2014 by philanthropists and 2014 Honorary Alumni Award recipients John and Melody Taft.

“I value deeply the commitment of the Taft-Nicholson Center to ensure our students, faculty and community experience the relationship between the humanities and the land on which we study and innovate,” said Hollis Robbins, dean of the College of Humanities. “I am grateful for Melody Taft’s new gift to support creativity as central to this promise.”

As an official extension of the U campus, the Taft-Nicholson Center works to bridge the arts and humanities with the sciences. The center’s mission is to increase environmental literacy, boost environmental awareness and inspire personal connection to nature and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Students, teachers, artists, scientists and community members participate in the center’s diverse educational programming – sharing their perspectives on the natural world and preparing themselves to create change in positive and meaningful ways.

To learn more about opportunities, subscribe to newsletters or to follow on social media, visit the center’s website. Applications for the 2023 Artist in Residence Program, Summer Faculty Fellow Program and Courses and Events will be available in October. Questions can be sent to Mark Bergstrom at