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Free arts workshop at the U will serve broader community, supporting outreach to diverse and underserved populations.

By Jana Cunningham

The J. Willard Marriott Library’s Book Arts Program at The University of Utah has been selected to receive a $15,000 award from the National Endowment for the Arts. With the goal of engaging an expanded audience in the arts, the fully subsidized workshops will allow community members, for whom registration fees might be prohibitive, to participate at no cost. The library is one of five entities on the U’s campus to have received a NEA grant in the past five years.

While maintaining high quality arts education and low instructor-to-student ratios, the Book Arts Program will offer short courses taught by three to four invited artists throughout 2016. This yearlong series will include locaBook Arts 3l, regional and national instructors. Though all members of the community will be invited to participate, the initiative will target populations who are underserved by the arts and those who have been interested but unable to afford prior workshops.

Held in the Book Arts Studio in the U’s Marriott Library, the workshops’ past course content has included bookbinding, letterpress printing, printmaking, paper art, photography, conservation and lettering. The Book Arts Program was established in 1995 as a division of Special Collections at the J. Willard Marriott Library. As the most comprehensive book arts program in the Intermountain West, the program melds higher education and community outreach with a common mission: teaching appreciation for art, literacy and culture through the traditional art and craft of bookmaking with the exploration of new media and creative concepts.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with the NEA and multiple organizations in the community to bring this project to fruitionBook Arts,” said Marnie Powers-Torrey, managing director of the Book Arts Program. “With this funding, we will bring highly acclaimed teaching artists to the U to serve the greater community.”

In addition to the NEA, support for the program is provided by the College Book Art Association, the U’s Department of Art & Art History, the U’s Department of English & Creative Writing, Salt Lake City Arts Council, Utah Arts & Museums, the Utah Center for the Book and the Utah Humanities Council.

The NEA will make 1,023 awards totaling $74.3 million nationwide in this funding round. Through its thousands of grants to nonprofits each year, the NEA promotes opportunities for people in communities across the country to experience the arts and exercise their creativity.

“The NEA is committed to advancing learning, fueling creativity and celebrating the arts in cities and towns across the U.S.,” said Jane Chu, NEA chair. “Funding these new projects, like the one from the Marriott Library’s Book Arts Program, represents an investment in both local communities and our nation’s creative vitality.”


Jana Cunningham is a communications specialist at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at