Immediately after the Festival, the participants, presenters, art, and artists went home. We organizers took a week or so to catch up on sleep. And then we went right back to work. We felt energized, and if anything, the positive feedback fueled our ambitions to develop additional ideas for the future.
While the memories of the Festival were still fresh, I asked participants of the event to jot down some personal comments about what the gathering meant to them. My own feelings were that people really enjoyed the act of meeting each other and forming a community. Repeatedly, I heard the comment that artists, scholars, and musicians felt accepted, valued, and welcomed.
But I had not realized how some of them saw the Festival as a historical moment in Mormon history. Here are two comments I received in July, from Terryl Givens and from Adam S. Miller.
“I applaud this event as a seminal moment in Mormonism’s coming of age, artistically.”
– Terryl Givens, Professor of literature and religion, University of Richmond, VA, author of People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture; The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith.
“I don’t know if this first Mormon Arts Center Festival marks a turning point in the story of Mormon Arts. Time will tell. But it feels to me like it will have been. Or, at least, it feels to me like it will have been if, hand in hand, we dare to decide that it was. For my part, I’ll risk that wager: something new just happened in the Riverside Chapel—I was there, I spoke and looked and listened—and the story of Mormon Arts will never be the same.”
Adam S. Miller, Professor of philosophy, Collin College, McKinney, TX, author of Nothing New Under the Sun: A Blunt Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes; Future Mormon: Essays on Mormon Theology