Kristen Beck wears many hats at the Downtown Alliance. She is Cultural Core Executive Director/Director of Urban Activation.
Kristin Beck works with various downtown stakeholders, artists and arts organizations to bring social activity and creativity to public spaces in the Central Business District. As the Director of Urban Activation, she generates support and interest in public art, performance and creative improvement projects. Her responsibilities include managing public realm assets, like street banners and kiosks; programming of music at the Market; oversight of the Art & Craft Market held 20 times every year at Pioneer Park in conjunction with the Farmers Market; development of the Old World Christmas Market at Gallivan Center; managing Garden Stroll and the holiday lighting program.
Kristen has been involved in many of the downtown events young professionals enjoy! We were lucky to be able to ask Kristen a few questions about her work and living in SLC.
Briefly describe your role at Downtown Alliance
Downtown SLC Presents is one of two 501c3 entities sit beneath the umbrella of DTA. I am the Director of Urban Activation for Downtown SLC Presents, which oversees arts and entertainment. Recently, Downtown SLC Presents was selected as the managing entity of the Cultural Core and I am the Managing Director. With help from DTA staff and an Artistic Director, I am charged with executing the Cultural Core Action Plan which provides recommendations for how the Cultural Core will be developed and managed.
How did you land such an amazing gig?
My role with DTA today comes from a true evolution of the various roles and responsibilities I’ve had since I came on with the organization in 2008. The roles I’ve had in the organization have absolutely nothing to do with the education I received from the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College. But it is certainly a reflection of my past experience, work ethic and the passion I’ve developed along the way.
I started out part time with DTA as event support and was hired full time in 2009. As Program Manager I worked on Farmers Market, programmed Music at the Market, managed the street banner and Main Street kiosk programs and supported EVE and Live Green events. Eventually I was asked to manage the Art & Craft Market that runs adjacent to the Farmers Market. As my role developed into Director of Urban Activation for Downtown SLC Presents, we added Garden Stroll in 2014 and I’ve operated that for the last three seasons.
In 2016 Downtown SLC Presents responded to an RFP to manage Cultural Core which was created through a city and county inter-local agreement funded by a sales tax assessment that is collected in the downtown core to support and promote our arts assets downtown. We were awarded the bid spring of 2017. Together, with the Artistic Director, Tyler Bloomquist, we’ll work to amplify the already world-class arts offerings in downtown Salt Lake City. It’s a very exciting time for our city and the arts community.
What do you wish more people knew about Salt Lake City?
Salt Lake City’s citizens are creative and authentic. There are a wide range of cultural offerings from opera and ballet to street, contemporary and fine art. I may be biased but, in my opinion, downtown is where you can encounter the true artistic identity of this city and state. Additionally, if it suits you, it’s certainly not difficult to couple your experience here with a nice meal and an adult beverage. There’s no shortage of possibilities.
You have friends visiting from another state and need to plan a night out on the town for them. What would your night look like?
When I consider going out with my friends, whether they live here or elsewhere, I typically default to a nice dinner and live music. I’m a sucker for sushi so I’d choose Takashi and, though it isn’t in downtown proper, The State Room is by far one of the best music venues in Salt Lake.
What do you think people find most surprising about Utah?
As a state, Utah is full of surprises, from the urban center in Salt Lake to the majestic Wasatch and ski resorts, the west desert and southern Utah, first time visitors usually come away from Utah in awe. I think above all people come away surprised that the outdoors and recreational offerings are so accessible. Grand Staircase-Escalante and the surrounding areas are breathtaking. It’s a short drive to some of the most beautiful scenery and recreation in Utah. Inclusive of Zion, Kolob Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, the entire area leaves little to be desired. Do not miss driving highway 12 but pull over, often, and take in the truly majestic views.
What would you tell someone if they told you they were moving here?
Depending how you lean, Utah and Salt Lake City have political challenges but our capital city is rich with cultural offerings and vibrancy. The surrounding neighborhoods are quiet and affordable. It takes 30-40 minutes to get to any ski resort or hiking trail. I’m not certain there are many city’s that can claim the same attributes.
What advice would you give to a young professional looking to get more involved in the community?
There are many options for getting involved in this community. Honestly, Downtown Alliance and the Salt Lake Chamber are great places to start. Know your district and who your city council person is. Get involved in local politics and events. Find a particular community oriented project that inspires passion and volunteer. There is no better way to get to know the pulse of this city than to work a community event.
Name your favorite local legend:
My favorite local legend is Jason Mathis.
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Previous Local Legends
June 2017: Chris Holifield - I Am Salt Lake Podcast
July 2017: Lindsey Kneuven - Head of Impact @ Pluralsight
August 2017: Natalie Workman - Founder of Utah Fashion Week/Owner Natalie Wynn Designs
September 2017: McQuiston Stoddard - Fashion Designer @ McQuiston Marie
October 2017: Lindsay LaPaugh - Owner Salt Lake Elevated Gym/The Wellness Gypsy
November 2017: Terry Marasco - Leader Utah Clean Air Alliance/Owner Virtual Sommelier