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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Volunteers connect Cottonwood Heights to its past and to the arts

Mar 02, 2021 11:51AM ● By Josh Wood

The Historic Committee will work to make the history of Cottonwood Heights more accessible online. (Photo courtesy Jim Kichas)

By Joshua Wood | [email protected]

The city of Cottonwood Heights has long relied on dedicated volunteers to help deliver services to its residents. Despite slowdowns and postponements due to the pandemic, work has continued to keep the city’s cultural activities moving forward. Two committees that have kept up their work through virtual meetings and planning for post-COVID activities are the city’s Arts Council and Historic Committee.

“When safety protocols allow, we will begin an oral history initiative with a goal of conducting professional level interviews with individuals having valuable perspectives on the history of the area,” said Historic Committee chair Jim Kichas. “These interviews will go into the committee archives and we are excited to find ways to bring them to the citizens of Cottonwood Heights.”

Meanwhile, despite the many challenges faced by the Arts Council to bring people together during the pandemic, it has started to move forward with activities. They have begun work on a sculpture for the City Hall plaza. “It has been a very unique process to be a part of, and we are still at the beginning stages, but we can't wait to see what happens,” said Arts Council chair Whitney Dodge.

The Arts Council has started to make tentative plans for events later this year, including rehearsals for its annual musical performance later this year, a production of “Matilda” by Roald Dahl. Virtual auditions will be held in late March. Details can be found on the Art Council’s page of the city website.

“The Arts Council doesn't have very much going on right now since we can't hold our normal events due to COVID, but we have been given the green light to plan for our summer musical,” Dodge said. “We don't know what the restrictions will be, come the end of the summer, but we are going to try and be as prepared as possible to put on a great show.”

Each winter, the city hosts a dinner to thank its many volunteers for their service to the community. This year’s dinner was canceled due to the pandemic, and city officials felt the event’s absence. “I do miss seeing all the volunteers in person,” said Cottonwood Heights Culture Manager, Ann Eatchel. “They are still working hard, and we have monthly meetings.”

As they look to the future, both committees could use more help. With plans for activities to resume in the coming months, the Arts Council and Historic Committee are looking for volunteers. Kichas invites anyone interested in joining the Historic Committee to contact Eatchel. The committee has planned several projects, including potentially partnering with Brighton High School to celebrate its history and mark the opening of the new school buildings in 2021-22. Kichas and his fellow volunteers will also continue to build an online presence to help connect residents with the history of Cottonwood Heights. They will add to a growing archive of historic documents and photographs and make them available online.

“We will work towards the creation of historic monuments and markers in the city, including a marker to honor the veterans from our community who have served,” Kichas said. “We will continue to take the lead on the historic preservation of buildings and structures in the city. This effort will include applying for grant funding that will allow us to place two homes in the city on the National Historic Register.”

The Arts Council will also look to add volunteers interested in helping with several culture ventures, particularly the summer musical.

“A lot of work goes into the summer musical, creating sets, sewing costumes, practices, rehearsals, etc.,” Dodge said. “We are planning to go ahead on all these things following all the [COVID] safety guidelines. Since the summer musical is our major event of the year, we are looking for people to join the Arts Council that have an interest in plays and musicals, and that have knowledge of theatre and putting on a production like this.”

Dodge also said the Arts Council could use assistance from people knowledgeable in stage management and equipment, marketing and social media. “Someone who loves community events and being involved,” she said. “Someone who loves Cottonwood Heights. Someone who has creative ideas and loves art.”