Although 2021 has been another challenging year at the ZACC, we have a lot to celebrate as we make our way back to ‘normal.’ We hear more footsteps, laughter, music, and artmaking emanating from all corners of our building – as many of our programs that were completely shuttered in 2020 have begun to return. We are spending less time on Zoom (thankfully) and more time connecting with each other in person, and we are feeling a little bit more hope.
With the pandemic beginning to wane, our youth and adult education programs are as lively as ever. Over 600 young people attended camps at the ZACC this year – learning and collaborating through music, art, playwriting, dance, stop motion animation, comedy, and more. Attendance was high throughout both youth and adult programming, and our services were sought after by people from all socio-economic means. This year alone we gave out over $30,000 in scholarships to students attending ZACC Art Academy, Summer Camps, After School Classes, and Adult Education programs.
The Show Room at the ZACC reopened post-pandemic in June, and since then has safely hosted all types of performances and community events, and performers of all ages and backgrounds. From Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, to Jazz Nights, to free documentary films presented by Big Sky Film Institute, to the fall UM Opera Gala, to multiple album release shows, to Empower MT's Verbatim Theatre, to comedy nights in support of local charities – the room's value to the community is apparent in its constant demand, diversity of use, and commitment to compensating artists.
As we continue to produce quality arts programming and imagine a world post-pandemic, the ZACC staff and board have been working to strengthen and increase our commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion through learning, policy, and outreach. This substantive work has already helped make the ZACC an ever more inclusive place, creating a framework for building relationships and growing our understanding of community with new events and partnerships.
In September we held an inaugural event – Resiliency of Montana: Indigenous Art Exposure – an example of this background work in action. Resiliency of Montana was a two-day, Indigenous led, collaborative and educational event that intersected Montana tribal artists and their families at the ZACC. According to its organizers, it was the largest Indigenous art event in Montana that was not related to a powwow. ‘Resiliency’ featured contemporary Indigenous poets, musicians, fine artists, clothing designers, photographers, a craft market, and a fashion show. Indigenous artists, elders, youth, and families traveled from all over the state to attend.
Even as we’re more hopeful than we were in 2020, and so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past year, we still face many challenges and uncertainties as Covid-19 cases remain high in our community. Our camps, classes, gallery openings, and performances are only operating at half capacity in order to ensure the safety of all guests, and we are still facing many unknowns as we budget for the coming year. Though much is still uncertain, we know one thing for sure. As we move beyond this pandemic and reconnect with the world, we return to the arts again and again. They are and always will be our most powerful tool for fostering human connection and personal growth. Please consider a gift to the ZACC before the end of the year to help us continue to cultivate community through accessible arts experiences for all.
We would also love to see you at our annual Holiday Open House this Friday, December 3, from 5 to 8 PM. ZACC staff and Santa’s elves will be on hand to give tours of our magical holiday wonderland. There will be a variety of free – and super fun – activities for folks of all ages, including live music, Santa Selfie Stations, our Friends & Family gallery show, and more.