Art Center in Ephraim Says It’s Victim of Censorship

(KCPW News) The Central Utah Art Center in Ephraim believes a recent decision by the city to evict it from its home in the city’s Pioneer Square amounts to censorship. In a letter signed by the mayor and city council, Ephraim City says the center, which is known as CUAC (pronounced “quack”), failed to live up to its commitment to provide arts education to schools. But CUAC Director Adam Bateman says last year, the center taught 500 elementary school students.

“We did reach a fairly large population of Ephraim Elementary School students,” he says. “Now, Ephraim City is saying that they didn’t want us to teach the classes in our art center, but they wanted us to teach the classes in the elementary school.”

He adds the center did have a plan to provide education directly at Ephraim Elementary School last year, but its executive director abruptly left and put the organization in turmoil.

Bateman says he’d been led to believe the city was set to renew CUAC’s funding, but that changed when city officials visited its current exhibition, which has three photographs that depict women’s breasts while exploring race-based injustice.

“I received correspondence with them saying they did not like the content of the art in that exhibition, and it was after their visit to the art center that they voted unanimously to evict us. Nothing had changed in our education program in those two weeks, the only thing that had changed is they had walked into the center and seen the art show,” says Bateman.

Ephraim Mayor David Parrish acknowledged to the Salt Lake Tribune that the city doesn’t believe the exhibition represent’s the community’s values, but said it was CUAC’s failure to meet its expectations for arts education that led to the eviction.