Trumpets sounded and flags flew as the new Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts was dedicated over a three-day celebration July 7-9, 2016 on the campus of Southern Utah University. Over a thousand people gathered to honor the legacy of the Center’s namesake and pay tribute to the people who spent hours planning, designing and building this vibrant arts mecca.
Dignitaries from across the state helped celebrate this momentous occasion on the six-acre complex including Governor Gary Herbert; Senator Evan Vickers; Representatives John Westwood and Don Ipson; Julie Fisher, executive director of the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts; Cedar City Mayor, Maile Wilson; members of the Utah State Board of Regents; members of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation; the project’s architect Kevin Blalock and his team from Blalock and Partners; the project’s general contractor, Jack Livingood; city and county officials; Southern Utah University Trustees; and SUU President, Scott L Wyatt.
“Art takes the coarseness out of life - it makes us all better people,” said Governor Herbert during the dedication. “This Center will benefit the entire state of Utah.”
The $39 million Beverley Center for the Arts will incorporate visual arts, live theatre and dynamic education at Southern Utah University. Arts and arts education is the foundation of the Beverley, which hosts the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival and the new Southern Utah Museum of Art, said to be a permanent sculpture that houses an art museum.
“This is a world-class Center for the Arts that will combine the visual and performing arts, transforming this community into a cultural epicenter,” said Ken Verdoia, chair of the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.
Beverley Taylor Sorenson developed a rich legacy of love and support for arts education in Utah. Devoting her life to enhance the level and breadth of arts funding and education, Beverley was a tireless advocate and visionary who believed in the power and impact art has on a child’s life.
"We could not be happier with the extraordinary new Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts," said Joan Fenton, president of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and daughter of the late Beverley Taylor Sorenson. "The fulfillment of this vision will make Southern Utah University an even greater center of excellence for integrating the arts in education, and this spectacular region will become an even greater worldwide destination for theater and other performing arts."
"This beautiful place is a fitting memorial to the name and legacy of our mother," said Ann Crocker, daughter of Beverley Taylor Sorenson and board member of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. "She would have loved this new center and everything it stands for and will accomplish--making art more accessible and meaningful to artists and patrons alike, both on this campus and in the region it serves."
The Sorenson Legacy Foundation provided the naming gift of $6 million for the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts. Other major gifts from the Engelstad Family Foundation, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, Maud Trismen Mason, the Ashton Family Foundation, Garth and Jerri Frehner, the Simmons Family Foundation, O.C. Tanner Company, Austin and Magda Jones, the estate of Jim Jones, the State of Utah, Iron County, and Cedar City Corporation completed the project.
Speaking to the construction process, the project’s general contractor Jack Livingood compared the last four years to a Shakespeare saga of adventure.
“Not unlike the plays we follow, we had heroic efforts and a ghost following us at night,” said Livingood. “We even had the occasional comedy of errors and a battle or two where we couldn’t find our horse. When all is said and done, we’re so proud of what has been accomplished here.”
The event hosted dozens of free activities geared toward child involvement in the arts. From face painting and balloon animals to mosaics and masks, creative sparks were flying across the Beverley Center. Lynn Vartan, director of percussion at SUU, performed with her new signature mallets inside SUMA. Each night, an after party was hosted on the Simmons Family Plaza and featured local talent such as Joe Muscolino and Wilhelm.
Students of SUU were also involved in performances, ranging from the music department showcasing individual talents, the theatre department performing excerpts from the play Art by Yasmin Reza and the SUU Ballroom Dance Company spinning and twirling on the Sam & Diane Stewart Plaza.
Southern Utah University (1897) has evolved from a teacher training institution to the state of Utah's designated and only public liberal arts and sciences university, offering undergraduate and master's level degrees. With a unique mission toward hands-on experience, undergraduate research and scholarship, and a personalized learning environment, SUU places students first with small classes led by supportive professors. True to the University's core vision, SUU faculty, staff and administrators enable students to honor thought in all its finest forms, achieve excellence in their chosen field, and create positive change in the world.