The Storied Self, a series of live storytelling events, received funding from the Moab Arts Council. [Photo by Murice Miller / Moab Sun News]

It all started in 1987. The Canyonlands Arts Council, organized by a group of passionate art lovers in Moab. Since then, Moab has seen many changes and so has the council, now called the Moab Arts Council (MAC).

“We saw a need for the council to expand and grow,” said Makeda Barkley, MAC board member and assistant director of the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC).

“There was room for the MAC to support some really cool local projects that might not otherwise get off the ground,” she said.

“The council is truly community-based,” said Rebecca McAllister. “It’s a bridge between small, local art projects and larger, more formal organizations.”

McAllister is the owner of Moab Made, a shop featuring art and homewares made by local artisans. She’s part of a fresh crop of board members who are dedicated to making an impact on the Moab arts scene.

She said that getting involved with the council was an easy choice for her.

“It’s so good for the community. I thought, ‘that is something I can definitely spend my time on,’” said McAllister.

The council is entirely volunteer-run and so depends on the dedication and commitment of its board members.

Over the past few years, the council has had a “growth spurt,” said McAllister.

“The council has been around a long time, so it’s an exciting time to retool it to fit current Moab culture and support current projects,” she said.

Greg Moss, a local photographer, has been involved with the council for around three years.

“It’s so fun to be involved with and support so many public art projects,” said Moss. “More can get done with the arts council in the future because there’s a passionate group advocating for more art.”

Barkley sees the re-energized council as a catalyst for the future of Moab’s art scene.

“The council is going to be able to be so much more active in the community, helping to bring all kinds of interesting projects,” to the region, she said.

Supporting Local Art Projects

Since 2002, the MAC has worked with the City of Moab to manage and re-distribute funds that the Moab City Council sets aside for community arts projects, forming a Community Art Committee with members of the MAC board, the council and the general public.

“The city gives us a wonderful amount of money to regrant to the projects, focusing on projects that are sustainable and community-oriented,” said Barkley.

The grant committee manages the process from designing the grant requirements, collecting applications and finally going before the Moab City Council for final approval.

MAC awards grants around $500 to $1000, so many projects can receive support.

“So many things have been granted through this program,” said McAllister. “Every year it’s been awesome to be on the jury and see the unique ideas that come through.”

​Barkley said, “Our grant awardees are kind of all over the board, in terms of different events and styles of art.”

A quick look at the list of former grant recipients backs up her statement. It seems almost any arts event or organization in Moab one can think of has been touched by the council’s grant support. Just in recent years, the council grants have supported the Moab Community Dance Band, Moab Music Festival, Moab Artist Studio Tour, the Kids Art Tent at the Moab Arts Festival, KZMU Radio’s annual radio drama and “The Storied Self,” a project that held multiple storytelling events throughout the past year.

McAllister is a fan of “The Storied Self” events and proud that the MAC grant process had a hand in bringing them to life.

“It’s been wonderful to see ‘A Storied Self’ become a great success this year,” she said. “That’s a great example of someone who had a great idea and just needed some support to get it off the ground.”

The grant doesn’t just benefit new projects, but also helps grow and support popular Moab events, such as KZMU Radio’s annual radio drama.

“The arts council has a great ripple effect in the community through all these small projects,” said McAllister. “I think it’s also a testament to the unique position of the council: it’s not a giant, powerful machine. It’s a thoughtful tool to support our community.”

The council is accepting applications for the 2020 Community Arts Grant until Monday, Dec. 2. Applications can be submitted online at for consideration.

“We’re hoping to support some new projects this year,” said Barkley, “as well as events we support each year.”

An Incubator for Local Groups

While providing yearly funding through the arts grants, the council also is committed to supporting and sponsoring new organizations in the region. The council offers a fiscal “umbrella” for groups or individuals, allowing them to use the group’s not-for-profit 501(c)(3) status when seeking grants.

“We’re able to provide nonprofit status for the Moab Pride council, for The Dust magazine…it’s something we’re happy to be able to do to support groups who aren’t able to go through the whole process of getting that status on their own,” said Barkley.

“The bottom line is that the council wants to see more art everywhere,” said Moss. “More public art, more interactive things and more support for artists in our community.”

The council is still small in numbers, but the group’s impact goes far beyond their individual contributions.

“It’s a small group, but that makes it so impressive that we’re able to do as much as we do,” said McAllister.

She’s looking forward to using the group’s involvement in so many different projects to help organize and bring more attention to the arts scene as a whole.

“I’m so excited to see the council become more of a known resource in the community, so people know where to turn to when they’re curious about what’s happening in the arts scene here in Moab,” she said. “We’re keeping these programs alive, so they can thrive in the future.”

Local council funds events, programs