The Center for Latter-day Saint Arts has a three-fold mission: to display and perform art by Latter-day Saints in New York City and elsewhere; to publish scholarship and criticism about our art to reach a wider public; and to establish a comprehensive archive of Latter-day Saint arts, 1830 to the present.
Meet the Directors
The Center for Latter-day Saint Arts is led by Richard Bushman and Glen Nelson, co-executive directors, Allyson Chard, managing director, an executive board, advisory board, and volunteers. It is an independently-funded, non-profit organization that celebrates and studies Latter-day Saint arts.
RICHARD BUSHMAN, Co-Director
For a number of years now, I and others have been working on the creation of a Center for Latter-day Saint Arts in New York City. The Center’s goal is to create a nurturing metropolitan home for Latter-day Saint artists and to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of their work.
The idea grows out of the belief that arts (visual arts, drama, film, music, dance, fiction, poetry and so on) are a powerful way to tell the story of the Latter-day Saints.
The Center provides a site where Latter-day Saint art can be viewed, heard, criticized, and appreciated in the context of the broader art world. In New York, we see more clearly just what our artists have to say.
We have been greatly encouraged by the response to the Center. Everywhere, we have met people who grasp the potential of a Center for Latter-day Saint Arts. They have given of their time, resources, and talent to bring the Center into existence and give us a glimpse of its promising future.
We hope that others will find merit in this promising new venture and join us in bringing it to pass.
GLEN NELSON, CO-DIRECTOR
Hello. Let me tell you a story.
A young concert pianist studying at Juilliard approached me one Sunday morning. She was programming her master’s degree recital and wanted to perform at least one work by a Latter-day Saint composer as a way to express her own belief. “Where can I go,” she asked, “to find the Church’s archive of classical music?” The short answer is: nowhere, it doesn’t exist.
Regretfully, I would have a similar response to queries about a digital archive of our culture’s paintings, biographies of composers, monographs on architects, designers, poets, filmmakers, or choreographers, and academic scholarship using Latter-day Saint arts to illustrate concepts about the larger entity of culture—all of the traditional hallmarks of cultural scholarship. Unfortunately, those things are rare with us. And there are consequences for it.
Every year, like the swallows returning to Capistrano, young BYU grads come to New York to begin advanced degrees in the arts. I like to take them to lunch, and as something of a parlor game, I ask them what Latter-day Saint artists they admire. I regret to report that their answer, without exception, is the same: that they know none other than their immediate peers and their professors. How can that be? Furthermore, they ask whether it is possible to be an active member and an artist, as if there were no precedent for it.
It is unthinkable to imagine a student from Howard University unfamiliar with great African-American artists; one could not imagine a student from Bryn Mawr ignorant of great women artists—further, those artists would speak to their identity and give them voice—but our students (and the membership, generally) are largely unaware of our most accomplished artists from 1830 to the present. Maybe the time is here to address the problem. The first step is to engage tastemakers and scholars regarding Latter-day Saint arts itself. I hope you’ll join us in the conversation.
ALLYSON CHARD, MANAGING DIRECTOR
My involvement with the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts began one serendipitous day in March of 2016. I had recently moved to New York City and found myself in an unfamiliar church building on the Upper West Side. It was here that I met Richard and Claudia Bushman for the first time. After exchanging a few pleasantries, Richard told me he had an idea he was working on and asked if he could email me the prospectus. The document was titled, “Prospectus for a Latter-day Saint Arts Center.” I was intrigued. At our first exchange, Richard had no idea of my past experience. Professionally, I plan large events and I also have a passion for arts education. This was a project I immediately believed in.
Over the past few years, I have had the privilege to work with Glen Nelson, Richard and Claudia Bushman and many others on this inspiring initiative. As the scope of the arts center expands, so does the size of its talented group of volunteers. I currently serve as the managing director. In short, I help coordinate the logistics of the Festival and ensure everything runs smoothly.
Please join with us in this exciting journey of promoting and recognizing the arts in Latter-day Saint culture.
Mormon Arts Center Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization incorporated in the State of New York. Our organizational documents, our annual Financial Report and copies of our IRS Forms 1023 and 990 are all available upon request. For any of this information, please contact our Treasurer at firstname.lastname@example.org.