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Cottonwood Heights Journal

New art director in town

Aug 28, 2017 05:22PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Sheryl Gillilan, the new executive director for the Holladay Arts Council. (Jackelin Slack Photography)

By Aspen Perry  |   [email protected]

When city officials discovered they would lose Margo Richardson as the executive director of the Holladay Arts Council, they knew they had some big shoes to fill. As luck would have it, Sheryl Gillilan was looking to make a change and eager to take this next step with Holladay City. 

“I feel a kinship with Sheryl and think she will do awesome,” said Richardson.

Despite missing being more involved with the city she calls home and working with the arts council, Richardson is enjoying her new venture with the Clever Octopus, Utah’s first creative reuse nonprofit center.

Though her decision to start working with kids once the three-year grant to work as executive director of Holladay Arts Council came to an end was not easy, Richardson felt better knowing the arts council was in good hands. 

“I didn’t feel as bad about leaving when I knew there would be someone there to take the arts program further,” Richardson said.

Gillilan was eager to be part of a community dedicated to the arts when she discovered Holladay was looking for an executive director.

“I was impressed with the city’s recent commitment to fund a part-time executive director for the arts council. That told me they are serious about the role of the arts in building a vibrant community,” said Gillilan.

In addition to the commitment of the city, Gillilan felt Holladay already had a great art community in place. 

“Holladay has a good arts council in place with enthusiastic members, and there is so much potential for offering diverse arts opportunities to residents and visitors,” Gillilan said. 

Prior to accepting the executive director role with Holladay Arts Council, Gillilan spent 12 years working at Art Access, with the last five of those years spent as the executive director. 

City Manager Gina Chamness was impressed with Gillilan’s experience and is looking forward to working with her. 

“We are very fortunate to have found someone with her commitment and enthusiasm for the community-based arts program. I look forward to working with Sheryl, to continue the good work of the arts council,” said Chamness.

Gillilan described her time with Art Access, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing arts to all with a specific focus on the disenfranchised, as an organization that encompasses the power and positive effect art can have for those involved. 

“I witnessed, many times, the power of storytelling through art, and I am absolutely committed to that form of expression,” said Gillilan. 

In addition to her work, Gillilan is a quilt artist with work featured in “American Quilter” magazine. Her quilt “Desert Vespers” is one of a series of quilts highlighting her love of southern Utah. 

“I’ve always been fascinated with art and the positive effects it has on the person creating it, (as well as) the people viewing it.” Gillilan said. 

With the arts council having a successful season of summer events, including the Blue Moon Festival and the expansion of the summer concerts, Gillilan plans to continue these community-favorite events. 

In addition to continuing current arts council events, Gillilan and arts council members are discussing the possibility of adding some new events. 

“We’ve talked about another refugee art show and the possibility of doing some staged play readings, but we’re still figuring it out,” said Gillilan. 

And she further encouraged community participation. “If anyone reading this article has some suggestions, we’d love to hear them!”

Gillilan is a believer in the universal function art can play to help people communicate and build the community around them. To quote a bumper sticker, Gillilan, stated, “the EARTH without ART is just EH.”

“Art is what makes it a joy to be human. Art is how we share our stories and open our minds,” Gillilan said.

 “It’s exciting to be part of an organization that is poised to really take off,” she said.