A crowd gathers at the Twilight Concert Series, photo by Adam Finkle
Two cultural events have come to define Salt Lake City's cultural scene: the Twilight Concert Series, drawing draws thousands of hipsters, young and old, to the city's core, and the Living Traditions Festival, showing Utah is much more diverse than we thought.
Both were created and promoted by Casey Jarman, former program director at the Salt Lake Arts Council. Jarman left the Arts Council last fall to be replaced in March by one of his trusted lieutenants Jesse Schaefer.
Jarman came up with the idea for the Living Traditions, a cultural celebration of food and art in downtown, SLC, 29 years ago and proposed it to then executive director Mary Lee Peters. Two years later, he started Twilight Concert Series, which has hosted popular music groups like Belle and Sebastian and The Flaming Lips.
Jesse Schaefer, Jarman’s replacement, grew up in Utah and was a production assistant for the Living Traditions Festival in 2003 and 2004 and worked as stage manager for the Twilight Concert Series from 2004 to 2006. In 2007, he became the production manager for Living Traditions, Twilight and the Brown Bag Concert Series. For the last 12 years, he has also worked with the Sundance Film Festival, most recently as their production services manager.
This week Jarman, who worked nearly three decades with the Arts Council and helped put Utah on the cultural map with its events, revealed to the Salt Lake Tribune that he left his position after clashing with current director Karen Krieger, but it has been kept quiet since October 2013.
Jarman says his relationship with Krieger led to him suddenly being asked to voluntarily leave the Arts Council and he was nearly fired. “We just come from a different set of values,” Jarman says. “Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed and they said ‘How about you voluntarily retire?”
While Jarman would have rather eased out of the position and assisted incoming staff, he’s excited for his future. “There’s some people who want me to help with a festival in Mexico, others who want help with a festival back East, and I’ve been talking to a development agency about possibly starting up a new series at Gallivan,” he says. “Right now, I’m sort of taking a deep breath and realizing how hard I worked.”
He says Schaefer is capable of picking up where he left off. “Jesse learned everything he knows from me,” Jarman says. “I hired him to carry baggage for bands. That was the first thing I hired him for, and after that, he worked his way up and eventually I made him the assistant production manager and eventually the production manager.”
Jarman’s advice to Schaefer is to not be afraid to change things. “It’s not about this season, and it’s not about the next; it’s where it will be in 10 years,” Jarman says. “I got so much resistance to change. People didn’t want me to move [Twilight] to Pioneer Park. People didn’t want it to be $5. It’s just what happens, and you have to be very driven, very confident in your own knowledge of the field.”
When asked about her clash with Jarman, Krieger responded by saying "Casey had a long career with the Arts Council, and we wish him well."
Schaefer says he won’t forget great Twilight concerts from the Jarman era, including De la Sol, Sonic Youth and Robert Randolph and the Family Band.