The Iconic Tale of Izzy and SLC’s The Rose Wagner
The story is now iconic. It has the quality of an urban legend, but it is indubitably true.
Repertory Dance Theatre’s original home in the army barracks at the University of Utah was being demolished. RDT was homeless. Going here, going there . . . at one point “squatting” at the old Salt Palace. That they ended up in an old restaurant equipment warehouse on west Broadway (300 South) in Salt Lake City was indeed fortuitous.
Who knew that the site was that of the boyhood home of Izzy Wagner whose mother, a Russian Jewish emigre widowed early on, would support her family by mending old burlap bags and re-purposing them for the produce and wares of local farmers and others? Later Izzy and his brother Abe built that company into the most successful packaging company in the Intermountain West.
How Izzy and RDT became partners in the creation of Salt Lake City’s beloved Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center is one we’re happy to share with you again.
Because that’s what one does to celebrate 20 years of the temple of art that has propelled many of the Capital City’s most innovative performing and media arts groups. Not to mention its community-based model, run by Salt Lake County, in which amateur and school groups can rent a professional theater and crew for their prized entertainments.
Alice Larkin Steiner was one of the movers and shakers convened through the Performing Arts Coalition formed in the late 80s/early 90s to promote the construction and on-gong operation of a multi-use, public/private performing arts center for so many of the smaller arts groups badly in need of space for music, theater and dance.
Steiner was honored by RDT in February 2018 at the Company’s annual gala, REGALIA. Here she reminisces not only about the genesis of The Rose Wagner but talks about how locals can participate in the arts scene and the vitality of their home.
Hint: You don’t have to be a Izzy Wagner who ended up the principal donor of the site and building that would become The Rose Wagner, named after his mother.
County Councilman Jim Bradley was another key figure in the creation of The Rose Wagner. Bradley, who was RDT’s Board Chair, was honored in 2010 by Americans for the Arts for bringing together the arts community and the public and private sectors. He worked to pass the Zoo, Arts & Parks legislation (ZAP) which enables counties to collect one-tenth of one percent of the sales tax for an arts and culture grants program and with an annual infusion to almost 200 cultural organizations of more than $15 million.
You can read about Bradley’s winning the 2010 County Arts Leadership Award from Americans for the Arts here.
During the launch of the 20th Anniversary year of the Rose Wagner in August, 2007, Bradley was honored at the annual Rose Exposed event, a sampler evening of works by all six residents of The Rose, including RDT, created in a staggeringly short amount of time (4 hours).
You can watch a video here of Bradley and others talking about the illustrious history of The Rose, its early planning stages and the one-of-a-kind annual Rose Exposed which this year takes place August 25.
We love The Rose. And we hope you do to. In celebration of her 20th Anniversary, we hope you’ll consider a donation to Repertory Dance Theatre, the catalyst for the creation of Salt Lake City’s communal living room … and maybe even its kitchen, where the best, most exciting, most challenging aspects of the human story get brilliantly transcribed, illuminated and brought to life, along with that very local story that Salt Lakers, Utahns and westerners can call their own.
Our fiscal year ends June 30. Make a donation today and tell us your favorite memories of being at The Rose.
As of today (June 22, 2018), we’re at 68% of our goal.
You can access the donation page for this fiscal year-end campaign here.