UMFA Awarded $35,000 NEA Grant for ACME


The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) at the University of Utah (the U) has been awarded a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the Museum’s pathbreaking ACME Initiative. ACME—which stands for “Art. Community. Museum. Education”—is a dynamic three-part outreach project dedicated to rethinking the public role of museums through community engagement.

“These awards, reaching every corner of the United States, are a testament to the artistic richness and diversity in our country,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Organizations such as the Utah Museum of Fine Arts are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create and be inspired.”

This is the largest NEA grant the UMFA has ever received.

Created in spring 2016 by UMFA staff, under the leadership of education and engagement director Jorge Rojas, the ACME Initiative is transforming how the UMFA connects with, engages and learns from the community, through co-created programs, projects and exhibitions, with more than 40 local partners so far.

“In three years ACME has increased community access to the visual arts and is helping to make the UMFA a more welcoming and relevant place for everyone in the city and region,” says executive director Gretchen Dietrich. “We’re so grateful to the staff and to the many community partners and artists who have worked with us to help make ACME so meaningful.”

The ACME Initiative’s three components are:

The ACME Lab—a multidisciplinary, interactive exhibition space in the Museum where community collaborators and socially engaged artists explore new and innovative models of exhibition making and audience engagement. The ACME Lab and its exhibitions are made possible, in part, by a generous gift from The JoAnne L. Shrontz Family Foundation.

ACME Scholars—a mentorship program that engages undergraduates in the University of Utah’s Honors College in art- and social justice-related activities on campus and in the community.

ACME Sessions—bimonthly public meet-ups held at Salt Lake City Public Library branches where participants imagine and articulate new models of education and community engagement through hands-on activities and dialogue. An ACME Session on “Arts and Healing” will be held Thursday, May 16, 6:30–8:30 pm at City Library downtown. (See below for details.) ACME Sessions are presented in partnership with the Salt Lake City Public Library and have received funding from Utah Humanities.

For more information, please visit

This is one of 977 grants awarded nationally as part of the NEA’s Art Works program for fiscal year 2019. The nearly two-year grant period runs June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2021. For more information, please visit

Upcoming Program

ACME Session | Arts and Healing

Thursday, May 16 | 6:30–8:30 pm* | FREE

Salt Lake City Public Library, Main Library, Level 4 Conference Room

*Arrive early for refreshments

Arts practitioners, art therapists, and community leaders will discuss how arts-based practices can provide healing opportunities for individuals and communities. Participants will learn about the power of therapeutic art-making on an individual and global scale, create their own art in response to topics explored during the panel, and leave with an understanding of the intrinsic therapeutic value of art creation.

Session leaders:

Vickie E. Morgan, ATR, CMHC, Art Therapist, University Neuropsychiatric Institute, and Adjunct Professor, Salt Lake Community College, Utah Art Therapy Association President, Salt Lake City, Utah

Brandy Farmer, President/CEO of Centro Civico Mexicano, BOD/Vice Chair of Comunidades Unidas, Salt Lake City, Utah

Jave Gakumei Yoshimoto, MFA, MAAT, Visual Artist, Assistant Professor of Art, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Stuart is the founder, writer and wrangler at several sites including Gastronomic SLC, Utah Now and, The Utah Review; Stuart is a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune and has worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.